• Author, Social Activist Jack London Edits The Cruise of the Stark

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    JOHN GRIFFITH “JACK” LONDON (January 12, 1876-November 22, 1916) was an American novelist, journalist and social activist. He was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune, including science fiction.


    London was part of the radical literary group known as The Crowd in San Francisco and a passionate advocate of unionization, socialism and the rights of workers.


    His works included The Call of the Wild and White Fang, both set in the Klondike Gold Rush, and The Cruise of the Snark, a non-fictional, illustrated book chronicling his sailing adventure in 1907 across the South Pacific.  Accompanying London was his wife, Charmian London, and a small crew.  London taught himself celestial navigation and the basics of sailing and of boats during the course of the adventure.  During the voyage, he visited exotic locations, including the Solomon Islands and Hawaii and his first-person accounts and photographs provide insight into these remote places at the beginning of the 20th century.


    A nice three-piece lot, including a check, a magazine photo from his travels to the South Sea and a draft page, which includes one page of London’s edits in his own hand.  The edits were included in the final published book just before the end of Chapter II.  For London, this voyage and the accounting of his experience was clearly dear to his heart.


    The sheet reads: “In the Bohemian Club of San Francisco there are some crack sailors.  I know, because I heard them pass judgment on the Snark during the process of her building.  They found only one vital think the matter with her, and on this they were all agreed, namely, that she could not run.  She was all right in every particular, they said, except that I’d never be able to run her before it in a stiff wind and sea. ‘Her lines,’ they explained enigmatically, ‘it is the fault of her lines. She simply cannot be made to run, that is all.’  Well, I wish I’d only had those crack sailors of the Bohemian Club on board the Snark the other night for them to see themselves their one, vital, unanimous judgment absolutely reversed.  Run?  It is the one think the Snark does to perfection. Run?  She ran with a sea-anchor fast for’ard and a full mizzen flattened down aft.  Run? At the present moment, as I write this, we are bowling along before it, at a six-knot clip, in the northeast trades. Quite a tidy bit of sea is running. There is nobody at the wheel, the wheel is not even lashed and is set over a half-spoke weather helm. To be precise, the wind is northeast; the Snark’s mizzen is furled, her mainsail is over to starboard, her head-sheets are hauled flat: and the Snark’s course is south-south-west.  And yet there are men who have sailed the seas for forty years and who hold that no boat can run before it without being steered. They’ll call me a liar when they read this; it’s what they called Captain Slocum when he said the same of his Spray...” Much more.

    A great piece of literary history.


    Check is in very good condition.  Toning and light soiling to the proof sheet, stamped with “1st Rev[iew].”


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