"THE BRUTAL, VIGOROUS LIFE OF THE FAR NORTH": JACK LONDON'S FIRST BOOK, VERY SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF THE SON OF THE WOLF, 1900
LONDON, Jack. The Son of the Wolf. Tales of the Far North. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1900. Octavo, original slate gray cloth stamped in silver. Housed in a custom chemise and half morocco slipcase. $3300.
First edition, one of only 2028 first printing copies, of London's first book, his groundbreaking collection of nine tales set against the stark landscape of the Yukon, with frontispiece by Maynard Dixon, a lovely copy in original silver-stamped binding.
In his time Jack London "succeeded Mark Twain as the most widely-read Western novelist in the world… A distinctly American combination of… the outdoor and the reading man, like Melville whose books he so admired, like Cooper and Whitman, like Ambrose Bierce and Teddy Roosevelt, like Hemingway later on, Jack London had early learnt to fend for himself, as his animal heroes do" (Sampson, Concise Cambridge History, 827). "In 1897 London joined the gold rush to the Klondike, where he made an unsuccessful attempt at mining, came to know the men who were prototypes of his elemental, hard-living heroes… Stricken with scurvy, he returned to Oakland the following year and began to write of his experiences. His short stories of the Yukon were published in the Overland Monthly and the Atlantic Monthly, and in 1900 his first collection, The Son of the Wolf, was issued, bringing him national fame for his Kiplingesque portrayal of the brutal, vigorous life of the Far North" (Hart, 490). First printing, matching BAL's collation, with flyleaf at rear; also with Sisson's perfect e and t in "spruce" and "might" in the last two lines of page 147, no stub between pages 6-7, and comma after "1900" on copyright page. Woodbridge, London and Tweney's binding State 2 (of four, no priority determined), with dots beside the ampersand in the imprint on the spine end. While BAL notes that the first two printings were seen in bindings without dots beside the ampersand, and the third printing was seen with the dots present, the later and more thorough Woodbridge, London and Tweney describes four states of the binding—including the present state with dots beside the ampersand—but concludes "there is no known priority for the first edition… The authors would like to emphasize again that no known priority can be established for any of the four states mentioned above." Without very scarce dust jacket. Woodbridge, London & Tweney 1. BAL 11869. Sisson, 1-2; 116-19.
Very nearly fine condition with bright silver-gilt. A lovely copy of London's elusive first book.