John Griffith London was born in San Francisco on 1876 and died on 1967. Of an unmarried mother, Flora Wellman. His father may have been William Chaney, a journalist, lawyer, and major figure in the development of American astrology. Because Flora was ill, Jack was raised through infancy by an ex-slave, Virginia Prentiss, who would remain a major maternal figure while the boy grew up. Late in 1876, Flora married John London, a partially disabled Civil
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for examining the contradictions in the American character, and key movements and ideas prominent during the Progressive era.
Following London's death, for a number of reasons a biographical myth developed in which he has been portrayed as an alcoholic womanizer who committed suicide. Recent scholarship based upon firsthand documents challenges this caricature. But its persistence has resulted in neglect of his full literary ouevre and his significance as a seminal figure in turn-of-the-century social history.