His mother was Flora Wellman, his father was a William Chaney. Shortly after he was born, she married John London, a Civil-War veteran.
He was essentially self-educated but had done so well that he was able to qualify for, and enrol in, the University of California, but only stayed for one term.
He was clearly of an adventurous disposition, going to sea in a sealing-ship aged 17, which took him to Japan and the Arctic; and later, aged 21, he joined the Klondike gold-rush and went to Alaska. All of these experiences he made good use of in his writing, where he also demonstrated what a keen observer he was.
His early success as a writer enabled him to travel extensively, and this he did while working as a foreign correspondent. But all that he observed wherever he went only deepened his dislike of the enormous gulf between the rich and the poor, and he was a committed Socialist throughout his life.
In 1900 he married Elisabeth (Bess) Maddern, but left her and their two daughters three years afterwards and, in 1905, married Charmian Kittredge. She was also a writer and always accompanied him on his travels.
He died (of kidney failure) on 22nd November 1916 on his ranch, in Sonoma County, California, aged 40.
Some of his better known works are:
the Index to
The Call of the Wild
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