Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Jack London Historic Museum and Park Part I

I first read about the Jack London Historic Park in the Good Reading magazine (here) in Australia. As soon as I saw the article I put it on my list of things to do when I got to my sister's place in northern California.
As it turned out the park is only an hour's drive from her house and she had never heard of it.  So Sunday morning we loaded the car with picnic food and drinks and off we went.

From San Francisco you drive north to Sonoma and then onto Glen Ellen. The centre is a part of Glen Ellen and very easy to find. Ask any local.

Driving through Glen Ellen.
 We got a bit waylaid at the Jack London wine and chocolate centre and we had to pick up a few things at the Jack London shopping centre and deli.  Do you think maybe they use his name a bit much?

We found the park with no trouble at all and parked the car, waved at some ladies in the carpark who had finished their ride with their horses and we walked back towards Jack's house.

Jack London's history is an incredible one. The things he accomplished in his very short life amazed us.
(main source of following information from Jack London Ranch Album -Heritage Publishing Co- Valley of the Moon Natural History Assoc.)

Born in San Francisco in 1876 he went on to do the following things:
  • 1885: Discovered the world of books at Oakland Public Library where he became avid reader
  • 1889: Graduated from Oakland Cole Grammar School and did odd jobs to buy a skiff and sail around Oakland Bay
  • 1890-91: Worked full time at a pickle cannery. Quit that job and bought a sloop with borrowed money
  • 1893: Sailed as a seaman for seven months to Japan
    Jack London's Library and writing room

    A scene from one of the bedrooms
  • 1893-94: Worked as a laborer in Oakland but tiring of this became a hobo and travelled much of the USA and Canada
  • 1895-7: Completed course at Oakland High School and attended University of California Berkeley
  • 1897: Traveled to Klondike for gold rush but did not strike it rich
  • 1898-9: Unable to find employment, began writing 19 hours a day. Rejected for months before first sale to Overland Monthly for $5.00
  • 1900: On 7 April married E. Maddern. Evidently his first marriage was not a love match but a marriage of convenience and to bring forth healthy children.  He also met Charmian  Kittredge (his future wife and love match)
The stables where he kept his shire horses.

The vineyards in front of his house. (in fall colour)

  • 1901: Daughter born
  • 1902: Second Daughter born while Jack was vacationing in Europe after spending 3 months on assignment in London.
    Jack London
  • 1903: Publication of 2 significant books: Call of the Wild and People of the Abyss, an in-depth sociological study of the slums of London. Separated from his wife.
  • Set up a ranch, buying more land over coming years and instigating agricultural practices based on the Chinese practices that were 4000 years old. 
  • He also preached about Socialism at Yale University. He preached widely against capitalism after observing the extreme poverty in the streets of London when living in England.
  • 1904 Covered the Russo-Japanese war for Hearst Publications
  • 1905 Married Charmiane Kittredge after separating and divorcing his first wife. 
  • 1916: After a history with kidney disease he died 22 November.
He died at the age of 40 having written more than 50 books and countless numbers of short stories and magazine articles.


  1. Very interesting - both your trip and London's life! I was a big fan of The Call of the Wild and White Fang growing up. Curiously, I've never read anything else by him.

  2. Sorry for the delay in answering. I'm travelling at the moment. I too have read the two books you mentioned and nothing else by him. I had no idea of how much he wrote in his short lifetime but I would love to read something else by him.


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