Most people know Jack London for his stories about the North. His short story, "To Build a Fire," is one of the most well known American short stories, and both White Fang and The Call of the Wild are well-read and well-loved novels. The main conflict in all of his stories is man vs. nature, or, in White Fang, dog-nature vs. wolf-nature. Although White Fang is not human, the book illuminates the wolfish qualities of both men and animals, and the way that humans shape lesser creatures.
Jack London was from Oakland, California, then a little village across from San Francisco. His father was a grocer and a bad business man and after a failed venture, little Jack London, just ten years old, had to go to work. London worked and read books from the public library, although his family did not have enough money to send him to high school. At fourteen, he had to work in a fish cannery for ten to eighteen hours a day. This drudgery evoked sentiments in him that later developed into socialist leanings, which appear in his book The Iron Heel.
London started to write for money after he won a contest for a story he polished off in just a few evenings. He went back to school and finished his first year of college before he had to leave to help support his parents. When the gold rush struck, London left for the Yukon, only to find mica, "fool's gold."
After the failed trip to the North, London returned home and wrote about the North--with much more success. Although he did not achieve much prosperity in his time, London wrote many widely-read stories and books, and is known as one of the foremost writers of the "North."