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“You Have Always Loved Your Son And Things With Us Always

Will Be Well”: Warmly Inscribed By London To His Mother In

The Week Of Publication, First Edition Of

The Call Of The Wild

65. LONDON, Jack.

The Call of the Wild.

New York and London, 1903.

Octavo, original pictorial green cloth, dust jacket, custom cloth chemise

and half morocco clamshell box.

$89,000.

First edition, first printing, of one of the most desirable copies in American

Literature, inscribed from Jack London to his mother within four days of

publication, one of the earliest known inscriptions: “Dear Mother, You

have always loved your son, and things with us always will be well. Jack.

July 22, 1903,” in scarce original dust jacket.

“Starting in 1933, the German

nationalist ‘Action against the Un-German Spirit’ burned over 100 mil-

lion volumes of allegedly anti-German texts, including... The Call of the

Wild” for its emphasis on the autonomy of the individual

(Spoth, 241).

“One of the first American novels to examine the quest of the pioneer-

ing individual who breaks away from the sheltered environment of civ-

ilization and is romantically compelled to find freedom in nature. In

the early part of the century this was considered the American dream”

(Parker, 16). London’s relationship with his mother, Flora Wellman,

was complicated. When Wellman became pregnant in 1875, her hus-

band insisted on an abortion. In a fit of temporary insanity Wellman

shot herself in the head (a grazing wound). By the time she gave birth,

she could not care for the child and gave Jack to Virginia Prentiss, an

ex-slave who had just had a stillbirth. It was over a year before she

remarried and could reclaim Jack, who had by then come to view

Prentiss as a second mother. Yet, for the rest of his childhood it was

Wellman who cared for Jack, teaching him to read by the age of four.

“But especially he loved

to run in the dim twilight

of the summer midnights,

listening to the subdued

and sleepy murmurs of

the forest, reading signs

and sounds as a man may

read a book.”

72

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