Dutch Courage and Other Stories by Jack London Page 1 of 109
"I've never written a line that I'd be ashamed for my young daughters to read, and I never shall write such a line!"
Thus Jack London, well along in his career. And thus almost any collection of his adventure stories is acceptable to young readers as well as to their elders. So, in sorting over the few manuscripts still unpublished in book form, while most of them were written primarily for boys and girls, I do not hesitate to include as appropriate a tale such as "Whose Business Is to Live."
Number two of the present group, "Typhoon Off the Coast of Japan," is the first story ever written by Jack London for publication. At the age of seventeen he had returned from his deep-water voyage in the sealing schooner Sophie Sutherland, and was working thirteen hours a day for forty dollars a month in an Oakland, California, jute mill.
The San Francisco Call offered a prize of twenty-five dollars for the best written descriptive article.
Jack's mother, Flora London, remembering that I had excelled in his school "compositions," urged him to enter the contest by recalling some happening of his travels. Grammar school, years earlier, had been his sole disciplined education. But his wide reading, worldly experience, and extraordinary powers of observation and correlation, enabled him to command first prize.
It is notable that the second and third awards went to students at California and Stanford universities.
Jack never took the trouble to hunt up that old San Francisco Call of November 12, 1893; but when I came to write his biography, "The Book of Jack London," I unearthed the issue, and the tale appears intact in my English edition, published in 1921.
And now, gathering material for what will be the final Jack London collections, I cannot but think that his first printed story will have unusual interest for his readers of all ages.