Publication date: September 15, 2010
10 x 11 | 288 pp.
Cloth, $49.95 | 978-0-8203-2967-3
Praise for the book
"Everyone knows that Jack London's genius lay in the prose that flowed from his hand. But who could have imagined that his eye would be as powerful? London's photographs are a remarkable discovery and his humanistic vision an important contribution to photography."—Ken Light, photographer and director of the Center for Photography, University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
"Through the superb and richly detailed contextual commentary of Jeanne Reesman and Sara S. Hodson and the astute technical foreword by Philip Adam, Jack London, Photographer demonstrates the truth of London's claim to be a 'professional photographer' and provides readers with a fresh perspective, that of visual artistry, through which to view London's writings."—Donna Campbell, author of Resisting Regionalism: Gender and Naturalism in American Fiction, 1885-1915
"This important and long overdue book reveals an aspect of Jack London's life and work that has for too long been neglected, namely that he was one hell of a photographer who produced a body of work that can stand with the best. Thanks to Jeanne Reesman, Sara Hodson, and Philip Adam we now have in our hands a book that gives us a more complete picture of one of America's most prolific and admired writers, and also adds a new and fascinating dynamic to our appreciation of a formative moment in the history of photography. The prints from London's original negatives are simply stunning, guaranteeing a fair appraisal of Jack London as photographer."—Edward R. Beardsley, founding director, University of California, Riverside's California Museum of Photography
About the book
Jack London (1876-1916) remains one of the most widely read American writers, known for his naturalist fiction, socialist novels and essays, journalism, and the many adventures that he shared with the world. London was also an accomplished photographer, producing nearly twelve thousand photographs during his lifetime. Jack London, Photographer, the first book devoted to London's photography, reveals a vital dimension of his artistry, barely known until now.
London's subjects included such peoples as the ragged homeless of London's East End and the freezing refugees of the Russo-Japanese War. On assignment for the Hearst Syndicate, Collier's, and other magazines, London made photographs of San Francisco in ruins after the 1906 earthquake and fire and, during his voyage aboard the Snark, produced humane images of the South Sea islanders that contrasted dramatically with the period's stereotypical portraits of indigenous peoples. In 1914 he documented the U.S. invasion of Veracruz during the Mexican Revolution. Although some of the images were used in newspaper and magazine stories and in his books The People of the Abyss and The Cruise of the Snark, the majority have remained unpublished until prior to this volume.
The volume's more than two hundred photographs were printed from the original negatives in the California State Parks collection and from the original photographs in albums at the Huntington Library. They are reproduced here as duotones from silver gelatin prints. The general and chapter introductions place London's photographs in the context of his writings and his times.
London lived during the first true mass-media era, when the use of photographic images ushered in a new way of covering the news. With his discerning eye, London recorded historical moments through the faces and bodies of the people who lived them, creating memorable portraits of individuals whose cultural differences pale beside their common humanity.