“You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club,” said Jack London.
On this date, 141 years ago, author Jack London was born. The American novelist, journalist, and social activist is most known for his novels The Call of the Wild and White Fang.
Celebrate this author’s legacy by checking out the 47-acre national historic park named after him. Located in Glen Ellen, California, the Jack London State Historic Park has several buildings that visitors can tour. Start with the Wolf House, named after Jack, who was given the nickname The Wolf by a friend of his. Jack and his wife Charmian meant to live there, but never had the chance to live in it because a spontaneous combustion started a fire in the house. Jack never had the chance to rebuild it, but it’s available to tour.
At the park is also The Cottage, which was London's principal home on the Beauty Ranch. It was bought by London in the early 1900s after which he added 3,000 square feet of living space so he could use this space to write his stories.
You can also visit Jack London's Beauty Ranch and if you know how much animals and nature meant to London, you’ll understand how important the land was to him as well. There are hiking and riding trails so if you like nature it’s a perfect place for you. There’s also a lake for swimmers as well. According to the park’s website, the dam is in danger of collapsing, but the Jack London Lake Alliance is working to fix the situation.
There’s also the Happy Walls Museum, build by Jack’s wife, Charmian and Eliza, his step sister. Today, you can tour the rooms of the museum and see Charmian’s Steinway piano and other mementos left behind by Jack.
Jack London died when he was only 40 years old and his ashes are buried on the park property. You can see the grave site as well. After she passed away in 1955, Charmian’s ashes were laid under the same rock, next to Jack.
You can enjoy a Jack London guided tour of the property for $25 per person. There are also read-alouds and concerts in the park.
If you can’t make it to the park, visit The Huntington library in San Marino, California. The library includes many of London’s items including Drafts of Cherry, the incomplete, unpublished novel London was working on when he died; manuscript of The Sea Wolf, a charred hunk tragically burned in the San Francisco earthquake conflagration of 1906; letters to Charmian London; communications with his editors, especially George P. Brett; letters from Jack's beloved step-sister Eliza London Shepard about the Beauty Ranch; correspondence between London and authors such as Mary Austin, Upton Sinclair and George Sterling; additional correspondence covering topics such as socialism, the genesis of story ideas, advice for young writers, etc.; agreements, book contracts, and royalty statements; and magazine printings of London's tales, comic books based on the stories, magazine ads incorporating images from London's works, etc.