Biography of Famous Alcoholic and Writer Jack London

About the famous American writer and alcoholic Jack London, about his struggle with the disease.

JACK LONDON (1876-1916). American novelist and short-story writer.

He was an illegitimate child, raised in poverty by a stepfather, with the Oakland waterfront as his playground. He went to work on a boat at 14, later shipped out as a seal hunter, and traveled the world as an able seaman. The Call of the Wild, published when he was 27, established him as a writer.

At the peak of his success, London often boasted to friends about his early drinking exploits. He began drinking, he claimed, at the age of 5 when he would sample the beer he was required to carry in a pail from a neighborhood saloon to his stepfather. As a sailor at 14, he said, he could outdrink his older shipmates. He drank heavily throughout his life, preferring whiskey, reaching and passing the quart-a-day mark.

London wrote a book titled John Barley-corn, or Alcoholic Memoirs 3 years before his death. In it, he discussed his lifelong addiction to alcohol. At the conclusion of the book, he stated: "I intend to continue to drink, but more skillfully, more discreetly." His consumption of whiskey, however, subsequently increased.

At 40, Jack London was the best-paid, best-known popular writer in the world; he had money, success, a secluded retreat in northern California, and a devoted wife. At 40, Jack London committed suicide with an intentional overdose of drugs.

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