Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Death Ends All" for Jack London, Daring Novelist -- November 22, 2016

Seattle Star, 23-November-1916

100 years ago today, on 22-November-1916, writer Jack London died at his ranch in Glen Ellen, California.  For many years, people said his death was a suicide because of ill-health, but it was probably a result of sickness, alcoholism and an accidental overdose of morphine.  His was the first case I can remember reading of someone who died as an atheist.  I spent a lot of time thinking about it, especially when we visited his resting place, under a big rock at Glen Ellen.  The two finished novels would have been Jerry of the Islands and Michael, Brother of Jerry.  Two unfinished novels printed after London died are Hearts of Three and The Assassination Bureau, Ltd, but neither is set in Hawaii.  In any event, he wrote a lot and did a lot in his life.  This article is from the 23-November-1916 Seattle Star.  


Body of Writer, Who Die. Suddenly, Will Be Cremated, According to Wish, Without Prayers or Ceremony of Any Kind.

SANTA ROSA. Nov, 21.— Without ceremony of any kind, the body of Jack London, novelist and adventurer, who died at his Glen Ellen ranch suddenly last night, will be cremated at noon tomorrow at the Oakland crematory.

No minister or priest will pronounce a benediction, no prayers will be said, no choir will sing a requiem.

Believing that death ends all and that there is no hereafter, London often said that when he died he wished to be cremated and buried without ostentation His wishes will be carried out.

Only his wife. daughter and sister will accompany the body to the crematory.  His mother. Mrs Flora
London is seriously ill in her Oakland home and has not yet been informed of her son's death

London's secretary estimated that the novelist's income from his writings at the time of his death averaged about 20 cents a word.  He habitually wrote 1,000 words a day and this would make his annual income about $73,000 a year from new literary work alone.

So far as the secretary knows, the only finished work by London which has not been published are two full novels, two short dog stories and several Hawaiian stories.  Arrangements for publication of these had been concluded at the time of bis death.  London was working on a novel of Hawaiian life, called "Cherry," which was well advanced.  It is understood Mrs. London either will complete the novel herself or will engage some other writer to complete it.

How much other unfinished work London had started is not known.  The novelist's five-year contract with Eastern publishers would have expired nest year.  Recently a representative of an Eastern company was at Glen Ellen to induce London to renew his contract and had purchased railroad tickets and arranged to leave San Francisco next Wednesday for New York to discuss the matter.

He expected to return to Glen Ellen in February, when he hoped to be able to visit either Japan or Norway -- he was undecided which.

London's death was sudden.  Wednesday morning when his Japanese valet went to waken his master be found London unconscious in bed at his Glen Ellen estate near here.  Physicians were summoned who declared London was suffering from a touch of ptomaine poisoning or acute indigestion. London was roused with difficulty but recovered consciousness and then appeared to be recovering rapidly.
This was only a temporary strength, however, and London soon lost consciousness again, never reviving before death, which occurred at 7:45 last night. Attending physicians say he died from gastro-intestinal type of uraemia.

Was 40 Years Old
When London retired Tuesday night he complained of a pain in his stomach but thought it no more than indigestion.

Jack London, who wrote so many tales of adventure, himself had a life story that rivalled that of any of his heroes. Born in San Francisco 40 years ago, as a child he roamed the streets of this city. For several years, up to the age of 10, he lived on ranches. His people moved to Oakland where was educated in the public schools.

He graduated from a grammar school at the age of 15 and immediately entered on a life of wild adventure. Successively he became a salmon fisherman, an oyster pirate and longshoreman and then shipped before the mast. The seven seas he sailed for two years.

Tramps Land as "Hobo"
Returning to San Francisco he began a series of land adventures, tramping the whole country over as a vagabond and "hobo." Many times he was jailed as a "vag," but he saw all of the United States and Canada and even roamed about England.

In 1897 he entered Oakland high school but quit "by request," he said, and scenting new adventures in the recently discovered Klondike, went there. His year of life in the Arctic crystallized his literary ideas and furnished the impetus that made his success as a writer sure.

He had written half a dozen books before that but none had attracted attention. Returning from the Arctic he began to pen a series of tales of the Alaskan trails.

Then came "The Call of the Wild," and Jack London leaped into literary fame at a bound. He had found himself and from that time forward he advanced rapidly.

He wrote prolifically, having made it a habit for years to to 1,000 words a day -- no more, no less.

Became Gentleman Farmer
Several Years ago London became a "gentleman farmer." He purchased a large estate, Glen Ellen, and there presided over a wonderful ranch. He labeled the valley in which his place was located "The Valley of the Moon," and frequently wrote about it. Recently he spent considerable time in Hawaii where he meant to live part of each year but death interfered with his plans.

London was married twice. His first wife, who was the mother of his two daughters, Bess and Joan, was divorced ten years ago. She was greatly shocked today when informed of her former husband's deth. Several years ago London married again, his wife being the "Charmion" (Charmian - JT) of his books.

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