How Did Jack London Die – (1876 – 1916)

Date of Birth January 12, 1876 
Date Of Death November 22, 1916
Age 40 Years
Death Cause  Renal Colic leading to Uraemia.

Jack London, born on January 12, 1876, lived a life full of adventure and creativity. He was not just a writer but a journalist and a passionate advocate for change. In his short 40 years of life, he achieved remarkable success, becoming one of the first American authors to gain worldwide fame and wealth through his writing. His tales, spanning various genres, captured the hearts of many. Tragically, he left the literature world on November 22, 1916, due to a condition called uremia following renal colic.

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! (Jack London).

Despite a challenging upbringing, London became a successful writer, known for works such as “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang.” His adventures as an oyster pirate, gold prospector, and sailor fueled his writing and made him an icon of the early 20th century.

Indeed, his literary legacy lives on, but the facts of his early passing continue to stir up mystery and debate. And that’s what this article is all about, we’ll uncover the cloudy details surrounding Jack London’s unexpected death.

Jack London’s Early Life and Starting Career

Jack London had an interesting childhood and early work, just like the stories he would write later. Having been born in San Francisco, California, as John Griffith Chaney, he had a problematic childhood. His parents got split when he was very young, and his mother, Flora Wellman, and her new husband, John London, raised him. The famous pen name Jack London came from his dad.

Lack of money affected Jack’s early years, but his love of reading fueled a strong desire to succeed. Despite not having much schooling, he learned a lot from reading and from watching the world around him. At age 15, he went on his first trip by working as an oyster pirate in San Francisco Bay. He used these events as material for later writings.

London’s career as a writer began as a reporter. He became a great storyteller and learned the power of writing while working as a reporter during the Russo-Japanese War. Working as a reporter early in his work set him up for later successful writing novels.

Growing up, Jack London’s life was full of challenges and exciting events. These events fed his creative writing mind and gave him ideas for stories that would later captivate people all over the world.

I’d rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it than live a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet! (Jack London).

Personal Life And Relationship Challenges 

Jack London’s personal life was marked by a series of complex relationships and emotional struggles. He married Bessie Maddern in 1900, a woman with whom he had a close friendship but not a deep romantic connection. Their marriage, while producing two children, Joan and Bessie, faced strain and incompatibility. Jack’s pet name for Bessie was “Mother-Girl,” emphasizing her commitment to morality and purity, which often clashed with his more libertine views. 

The marriage eventually broke down in 1904, and they divorced the same year. London’s dissatisfaction with his first marriage, his extramarital affairs, and his search for a deeper connection led him to Charmian Kittredge, whom he married in 1905. Charmian became his soulmate and lifelong companion, sharing his passion for adventure.

Despite their loving partnership, they faced personal tragedies, including the loss of a child at birth and a miscarriage. Jack London’s personal life was a tumultuous mix of romance, adventure, and emotional struggles, which found their way into the complexities of his literature.

Health Concerns and Death Of Jack London

As Jack London entered his 40s, he was already suffering from various health issues. He had a history of alcohol abuse and struggled with numerous physical ailments. These included kidney problems, dysentery, and various skin diseases. His health had deteriorated significantly in his later years, leading to a life filled with pain and suffering.

  • Tropical Infections and Diseases

During his travels on the Snark, a ship he and his wife Charmian sailed on, Jack London contracted unspecified tropical infections and diseases, including yaws. These ailments reflected the risks and adventures that were a significant part of his life.

  • Dysentery, Alcoholism, and Uremia

As Jack London reached the end of his relatively short life, his health deteriorated significantly. His last days were marked by excruciating pain, as he suffered from dysentery, a severe and painful intestinal condition. His struggles with late-stage alcoholism added to his health woes. Uremia, a condition caused by kidney failure, further compounded his suffering.

  • What Caused A Clash Over His Death

For many years, there was controversy surrounding the cause of Jack London’s death. Due to his use of morphine to manage his pain, some older sources described his passing as a suicide, and this idea persisted for some time. His own writings, which at times featured characters taking their own lives, fueled this speculation. 

However, recent scholarship and firsthand documents have challenged this narrative. Most biographers now agree that London’s death was a result of uremia aggravated by an accidental morphine overdose.

The End Of A Literary Legend

At the age of 40, Jack London died too soon on November 22, 1916, in Glen Ellen, California. His life had been full of adventures and writing successes.  There were some problems with Jack London’s death, but what is clear is that his contribution to literature will last forever. 

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet! ( Jack London).

His works, such as “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang,” are still fascinating people all over the world. People of all ages love London’s stories of adventure and human struggle, and he will always be remembered as a literary hero. No matter how short his life was, his literary impact and the motivation he gives readers will last forever, making him an important figure in the world of literature.

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