Biography and Background Questions


Jack London Bio and Sea Wolf Background Questions:

1.  What are some things Jack London is known for?

2. Describe what life was like for him growing up (esp. economically).

3.  What kinds of jobs did Jack London have before becoming a successful author?

4.  What political philosophy did he hold?  Was he pro-economic freedom or pro-socialism or both and conflicted?

5.  What experiences especially shaped the novels he wrote?

6.  In what ways was Jack London not consistent?

7.  How old was Jack London when he wrote Sea-Wolf?  How old was he when he died?

8.  Who is Wolf Larsen’s character thought to be based on?

9.  What was one of London’s intentions in writing The Sea-Wolf?  Watch for the ways he tried to do this and whether or not he was successful or unsuccessful in his “attack” on this philosophy.

10.  Define philosophical Materialism.

Can See:  “Materialist.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 2004. 17 February 2010.

For Sea Wolf Background Links See:

“The Sea-Wolf.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 2004. 17 February 2010.

For Brief Online Jack London Biographies See:

  • Jack London Autobiography excerpt:


    “I was born in the working-class. Early I discovered enthusiasm, ambition, and ideals; and to satisfy these became the problem of my child-life. My environment was crude and rough and raw. I had no outlook, but an uplook rather. My place in society was at the bottom. Here life offered nothing but sordidness and wretchedness, both of the flesh and the spirit; for here flesh and spirit were alike starved and tormented.– Jack London, “What Life Means To Me” fromRevolution and Other Essays (1910)

    Biographical Excerpt from:

    London worked many jobs of menial and unskilled labour at places such as a cannery and a jute mill, and also worked as a window-washer, watchman, and longshoreman. But the drudgery of these occupations did not dampen his enterprising spirit or intellectual enthusiasm for reading and writing. While living in Oakland he discovered the public library and immersed himself in literature. Having taught himself to sail at a very early age, in the 1890s, with money borrowed from Prentiss, London bought the sloop Razzle Dazzle and worked as an “oyster pirate” in the Bay.

  • * Jack London Bio excerpt by Dr. Clarice Stasz

    (Be sure to read this one to help you answer your Background and Bio Questions.)
  • Koger. “Jack London.” Identities and Issues in Literature. Salem Press, 1997. 2006. 17 Feb, 2010
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