Christopher P. Stephens, Bookman

Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.

Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world. He has operated appealing bookstores in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, Hastings on Hudson, NY and several in NYC, NY. He is a wholesale dealer to other bookstores all over the world.

Chris loves books.

Stephens now maintains a lively internet operation out of his new home in Scranton, PA.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Jack London, born John Griffith Chaney, did not have an easy childhood.  The lack of ease started early.  His mother was embarrassed by his illegitimate conception, irritated that Jack's father left, and overwhelmed at Jack's birth.

London's parents lived in San Francisco where they plied their trades.  William Chaney was an astrologer.  Flora Wellman was a spiritualist.  She channeled the spirit of Black Hawk. This notable American Indian was born a century before as Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kis-kiak of the Thunder Clan.  He aligned himself with other Sauk Indians who were hostile to the settlers and wanted to return to the old ways.  Black Hawk became a leader of the Sauk and Fox Indians.

 It is unclear just how he presented his spirit through Jack London's mother.

Though from a wealthy family, Flora Wellman did not have an easy childhood herself.  She had various troubles.  One was an illness that left her physically deformed and perhaps mentally unbalanced.

Flora gave over the care of infant Jack to Virginia Prentiss, an ex-slave.  Mrs. Prentiss had just lost her own baby in childbirth.  She nursed Jack.  They remained strongly connected for life.  Through the Prentisses, Flora met John London.  He was a widowed veteran of the Civil War with many children of his own - several grown and one recently deceased  Eight months after Jack was born, Flora and John London married.  Their household included baby Jack and John London's youngest three children.  Flora drew on her training as a privileged young girl, and taught piano.

Everyone worked hard.  Jack shoveled coal, cut wood, and went to hunt seals in the Pacific.  As a teenager, London went to the Yukon to search for gold at Klondike.  He suffered a term in jail, pirated oysters, and rode trains.  In his spare time, he read.

The letters that Jack London wrote home convinced his mother he should be a writer.

He became one.  His colorful descriptions of the sea and the frozen north fascinated readers all over the world.  He wrote novels, short stories, essays, magazine articles and newspaper columns.  He was enormously popular in his (short) lifetime.  He used his influence to promote socialism and to speak about justice and beauty.

NOTE:  Moon-face is not his most famous novel, but the above pictured first edition recently found its way into riverrun.  It has that letter, featured in the earlier post, tucked in. 


This Jack London World is a trove of information, photographs, writing and anecdotes.  The list of links to additional sources is a trove within a trove

Project Gutenberg's free online Call of the Wild

It's fascinating to see these many images for Call of the Wild from google images.  Most of them are book covers but there are also cartoons and movie stills and sculpture.
the call of the wild

Black Hawk biography

google images of the Klondike Gold Rush

1 comment:

  1. What a pleasure to read about Jack London this morning. THank you!