Saturday (Jan. 12) is both the birthday of Jack London and Work Harder Day.
My introduction to
was in his early non-fiction works "Tales of the Fish Patrol" and "South Sea Tales" discovered early on in my father’s library. Later I devoured his most famous
novels, though I agree with those critics who claim his true genius was in the
Virtually self-educated, he pulled himself up from poverty working in canneries, mills and a number of maritime tasks which would later provide the inspiration for his stories. He saw his only hope of achieving his goal was to get an education. He managed to get in the
of California, Berkeley, but was able to attend less than a
His love of reading and learning was encouraged by a sympathetic librarian, Ina Coolbrith. Later he would attribute his literary success to eight factors, among them: “Vast good luck, good health, good brain, good mental and muscular correlation.”
In my reading of his career I discovered several unexpected connections to my own
roots. His mother, Flora, was the daughter of Pennsylvania canal builder Marshall Wellman.
London was a participant in the Coxey’s Army protest march of unemployed
workers in 1894, which passed near my home en route to Washington, D.C. (He was
actually part of the Western contingent known as Kelly’s Army and related his
experiences in the story “Two Thousand Stiffs.”).
In an article titled “Getting Into Print” published in 1903,
“Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you
don’t get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it.”
Good advice for Work Harder or any other day.