Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Jack London and his wife Charmian roam the San Francisco Bay circa 1910

Jack London aboard the Roamer. Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Jack London was known for his world adventures, but his training ground — and lifelong love — was the San Francisco Bay. As a boy he learned to sail a skiff in the Oakland Estuary, and at sixteen he ran with the oyster pirates before jumping ship to crew for the California Fish Patrol. London wrote The Sea Wolf aboard a sailboat purchased from the sale of Call of the Wild, and in his final years he and his wife, Charmian, spent a month a year exploring and feasting on the bay and in the Delta

"Always I come back to the sea,” wrote London. “In my case it is usually [the] San Francisco Bay, than which no lustier, tougher sheet of water can be found for small-boat sailing.”*

One of the primary sources for my book in progress about Jack London and the San Francisco Bay is Charmian Kittridge London's diaries. To coincide with the publication of the first full-length biography of Charmian London (written by friend and colleague Iris Jamahl Dunkle), I wrote an article for Estuary News about Jack and Charmian's explorations of the bay from 1910-1914.

Read my article in Estuary News here.

* London, Jack, "The Joy of Small-boat Sailing," Country Life in America, August 1, 1912.