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Frequently Asked Questions



Where is the poem that says something about "I'd rather be ashes than dust" or something about being a meteor?
This is the beginning of what has been called London's "Credo." Read the full text and learn more about this statement's origins, and where it has been published.


Did London commit suicide? (Several books and encyclopedia state that he did.)

This claim was made by London's good friend George Sterling, and was published by Irving Stone in Sailor on Horseback in 1938. Consequently, the point was made in so many later books and reference articles that it was accepted as true. In later years, scholars debated the point, and a pharmacologist, Alfred Shivers, wrote an essay disputing Stone's evidence. Most agree that he was mortally ill around the time of his death. Whether he may have taken a dose of morphine or not, and whether he accidentally overdosed, is still under discussion.

"No Suicide" by Reinhard Wissdorf includes his correspondence with Encarta regarding this point. Read it for a good informal introduction to these points.

Other views in this regard are by London researcher Russ Kingman and Becky London Fleming, Jack's daughter.

There is also London's death certificate in its original form. Now what do you think?


HELP! I have a paper due. I need to find literary criticism on The Call of the Wild (or any of London's writings)?

This site does not yet have much literary criticism, but you will find useful bibliographies and guides to literary criticism. See if your library has any of these books.

Many libraries have noncirculating guides in their reference sections. See, for example, Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Ask the reference librarian for help. They welcome questions, and will know what is readily available to help you.

For the most recent critical writings, check the Jack London Journal, which should also be in your nearby college library.

Finally, if you are having trouble, let your teacher know. He or she may not realize how difficult it is to find literary criticism at your local libraries.


Where is Jack London's essay on "The Scab," which has been quoted in various labor actions?

This essay is more complex than one would suppose from the title. It was a speech later published in a collection of essays, The War of the Classes. In "The Scab" London discusses capitalist scabs, and the United States economy as a scab in relation to other nations. You may find that the quote you have is not in this essay, because the late James Sisson determined that some of the statements regarding scabs attributed to London actually come from other sources.



I have a Jack London first edition (or original photograph, letter, etc.) What is it worth? If I want to sell it, where should I go?

We do not have the expertise to answer such questions apart from noting that London first editions, letters, and original photographs are valuable! At Utah State Universities Library you can see covers of Jack London first editions. The best reference book is Jack London First Editions by James E. Sisson and Robert Martens.

If you want to sell your books or private papers and photographs relating to Jack London, you should consult with a book and manuscript auction house in a major city, such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. There is a strong market for top quality material at these venues.

If your book is not in prime condition, you may find auction house catalogs useful for estimating a fair lesser value to sell the book to a dealer or yourself. Even old reprint (Grosset and Dunlap) or later edition hardback copies of London's books that are in good condition are in demand, especially if no recent paperback reprints are on the market.



Document maintained at: http://london.sonoma.edu/faq.html by Clarice Stasz, Ph.D. and Roy Tennant
Last update 3 July 2009.