National Endowment for the Arts - The Big Read
The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild

by Jack London

No man ever became great who did not achieve the impossible.




The Life and Times of Jack London

  1. 1870s
    • 1875: The failure of the Bank of California leads to a financial crisis, draining San Francisco of capital for the rest of the decade.
    • 1876: Jack London is born illegitimate to Flora Wellman, January 12.
    • 1876: Flora marries John London in September.
    • 1876: Mark Twain publishes The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
    • 1877: Unemployment abounds in San Francisco, leading to strikes and rallies attended by thousands.
  2. 1880s
    • From 1881 to 1885, the Canadian Pacific Railway completes a line between Ontario and the Pacific coast.
    • 1886: The Londons buy a house in Oakland, California, where Jack immerses himself in books at the public library.
    • 1886: John Burroughs, American essayist and conservationist, publishes Signs and Seasons.
  3. 1890s
    • 1892: John Muir is elected first president of the Sierra Club.
    • 1894: London is arrested for vagrancy near Niagara Falls and spends thirty days in a New York penitentiary.
    • 1896: Prospectors George Carmack, Skookum Jim Mason, and Tagish Charley Mason find gold in Canada, 1896.
    • 1897: Thousands join the Klondike Gold Rush, including London, who journeys to Alaska in July. He returns to Oakland one year later, suffering from scurvy.
    • 1898: The Spanish-American War begins.
    • 1898: The Treaty of Paris gives the U.S. Guam and Puerto Rico; America annexes Hawai’i.
  4. 1900s
    • 1900: “The Great Sickness,” an influenza and measles epidemic, causes the death of a third of Alaska’s population.
    • 1901: After President William McKinley’s death, Theodore Roosevelt becomes president.
    • London publishes nineteen books, including The Call of the Wild in 1903.
    • 1905: London divorces his first wife, buys a California ranch, and marries Charmian Kittredge.
    • 1906: San Francisco earthquake rocks the Bay Area, followed by serious aftershocks and fires.
    • 1906-1907: Jack and Charmian nearly go broke building their yacht, the Snark.
  5. 1910s
    • 1912: Congress designates Alaska a territory, but it will not become the forty-ninth state until 1959.
    • 1913: Woodrow Wilson becomes the twenty-eighth U.S. president, a year before World War I begins in Europe.
    • 1916: Jack London dies at his home in the Sonoma Valley on November 22.
    • 1917: The United States enters World War I.
    • 1918: Armistice signed on November 11.
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