Speaking of Great American Authors

A piece on Jack London, pirate:
He was a child labourer in Oakland at 14, a Bay Area pirate at 15, a transcontinental hobo at 16, an able-bodied seaman at 17, a New York State prisoner at 18, a California ‘work beast’ at 20 and a Yukon prospector at 21. He escaped penury at 23, when after a frantic apprenticeship he began selling short stories. The bulk of them were set in the Yukon or in the South Pacific and drew on the life he’d left behind. The Call of the Wild, published in 1903, made him a celebrity at 27, and subsequent additions to his CV – candidate for mayor of Oakland, no-good husband, doomed sea captain and arthritic debauchee – were a matter of public record. London’s life had a mythic quality in the eyes of his contemporaries....

At the age of 14, London went to work at a cannery because his parents couldn’t afford to send him to high school. He was paid two dollars a day and hated it. Not having a normal job became his life’s work. He got a loan from the Prentisses, bought a skiff, and became an oyster pirate on the North California coast. ‘Every dark night’s raid,’ Labor writes, ‘was an invitation to get shot or arrested.’
I don't think I've ever heard of "oyster piracy" before.

1 comment:

douglas said...

Hmmm, also never heard of it- but it sounds interesting. Certainly outlaw.