Jack London (born John Griffith Chaney, January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916) was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone. He is best remembered as the author of White Fang and Call of the Wild, set in the Klondike Gold Rush, as well as the short stories "To Build a Fire", "An Odyssey of the North", and "Love of Life". He also wrote of the South Pacific in such stories as "The Pearls of Parlay" and "The Heathen", and The Sea Wolf, of the San Francisco Bay area.
London was a passionate advocate of unionization, socialism, and the rights of workers and wrote several powerful works dealing with these topics such as his dystopian novel, The Iron Heel and his non-fiction exposé, The People of the Abyss.
Biographer Clarice Stasz and others believe that London's father was astrologer William Chaney. London's mother, Flora Wellman, a music teacher and spiritualist who claimed to channel the spirit of an Indian chief, was living with Chaney in San Francisco and became pregnant. Whether Wellman and Chaney were legally married is unknown. Most San Francisco civil records were destroyed by the extensive fires that followed the 1906 earthquake; it is not known with certainty what name appeared on his birth certificate. Stasz notes that in his memoirs, Chaney refers to London's mother Flora Wellman as having been his "wife" and also cites an advertisement in which Flora called herself "Florence Wellman Chaney".