Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Zena G. Holman Jack London Collection
Date (inclusive): 1888-1971
Date (bulk): (bulk 1900-1927)
Collection number: 241-082-149
Holman, Zena G.
14 linear feet, 4 oversize folders.
Diablo Vista District Archives
Abstract: Born John Griffith Chaney on January 12, 1876 in San Francisco, Jack London was an American author, journalist, and social
activist best known as the author of Call of the Wild and White Fang. London's interest in the rights of workers and socialism
resulted in several works such as The Iron Heel and The People of the Abyss. The Zena G. Holman Jack London Collection is
arranged in five series: 1. Publications, 2. Scrapbooks, 3. Photographic Material, 4. Correspondence, and 5. Ephemera. Items
span the years 1888 to 1971 with the bulk of the collection from 1900 to 1927.
Physical Location: Diablo Vista District Archives
Languages: Languages represented in this collection:
The collection is open for research with permission from the Diablo Vista District Archives staff.
For permission to reproduce or publish, please consult the Diablo Vista District Archives. Permission for reproduction or
publication is given on behalf of the Diablo Vista District Archives, Sonoma as the owner of the physical items. The researcher
assumes all responsibility for possible infringement that may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the
California State Parks.
[Identification of item], Zena G. Holman Collection, 241: 082-149: [box: folder number], Diablo Vista District Archives, Sonoma,
Zena G. (Patrick) Holman (1891-1980) donated this collection in 1970. Holman and her husband Wilford R. Holman owned the Holman
Department Store in Pacific Grove, CA. Along with other historically significant collections, Holman collected Jack London's
publications, personal writings, photographs, and documentary material about the author. No further accruals are expected.
Lola Aguilar processed this collection and created and encoded its finding aid in 2012.
Born John Griffith Chaney on January 12, 1876 in San Francisco, Jack London was an American author, journalist, and social
activist best known as the author of Call of the Wild and White Fang. Jack's parents, Flora Wellman and William Chaney were
unmarried and subsequently, Chaney deserted Flora before Jack was born. A few months later Flora met and married widowed Civil
War veteran John London, who had two daughters, Eliza and Ida. The family settled in Oakland. Eliza became a second mother
to Jack even after her marriage to Captain J.H. Shepard.
Jack spent many hours in the Oakland Library, mentored by librarian Ina Coolbrith and later befriended by reference librarian,
fellow socialist, and founder of the Ruskin Club, Frederick Irons Bamford. In 1890, Jack graduated from Cole Grammar School
and went to work at Hickmott's Cannery in Oakland. London quit work in 1892 and became an oyster pirate, served on a fish
patrol, sailed on a sealing ship, joined Kelly's Army of unemployed men, and tramped around the country until late 1894 when
he returned home to attend high school at age 19. Jack embraced socialism as a consequence of his exposure to poverty and
social injustice during his travels. He joined the Socialist Labor Party in 1896.
Always a prolific reader, Jack was determined to become a writer to escape the factory life. In 1893 he won the $25 prize
in the San Francisco Morning Call contest for best descriptive article for "Story of a Typhoon Off the Coast of Japan." He
submitted stories to various publications, generally without success. He attended high school for one year before his admittance
to the University of California, Berkeley. He soon quit school to seek his fortune in the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897, returning
home the next year to undertake writing as a profession. His first novel, The Son of the Wolf, was published in 1905.
In 1900, Jack married Elizabeth "Bess" Maddern, with whom he had two daughters, Joan and Bess. He divorced Bess in 1905 and
married Charmian Kittredge. The same year London bought a ranch in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, CA and called it "Beauty Ranch,"
with Eliza as ranch superintendent. In 1907, the couple sailed the South Pacific on their yacht, the Snark, before heading
for home after Jack contracted tropical diseases, which he treated with mercury-based medicine. Back home in 1909, the London's
continued to add to the ranch and started construction of "Wolf House," which was destroyed by fire in 1913.
Jack London died of uremia aggravated by an accidental morphine overdose on November 22, 1916. At the time of his death, he
suffered from dysentery and uremia and late stage alcoholism. His ashes were buried near the Wolf House ruins in Jack London
State Historic Park. London prodigiously penned novels, non-fiction, essays, plays, and short stories becoming the first living
author to achieve worldwide commercial and critical success.
Scope and Content of Collection
The Zena G. Holman Jack London Collection is arranged in five series: 1. Publications, 2. Scrapbooks, 3. Photographic Material,
4. Correspondence, and 5. Ephemera. Items span the years 1888 to 1971 with the bulk of the collection from 1900 to 1927.
Series one, Publications, consists of 163 file folders and includes nine subseries: 1.1 Books by Jack London, 1.2 Books by
Charmian Kittredge London, 1.3 Books by Joan London, 1.4 Books by Other Authors, 1.5 Periodicals, 1.6 Newsletters, 1.7 Book
Catalogs, 1.8 Pamphlets, and 1.9 Clippings. This series contains a complete collection of Jack London's books, many of which
are first editions and includes his articles that appeared in contemporary periodicals. He wrote socialist pamphlets that
are included in this series, along with socialist pamphlets written by other authors. Holman collected clippings that mentioned
London during and after his death.
Series two, Scrapbooks, consists of ten file folders and include histories, photographs, brochures, programs, manuals, directories,
bibliographies, news releases, and news clippings. Zena Holman compiled ten scrapbooks that contain her eight years research
project of Jack London's life and career.
Series three, Photographic Material, consists of two file folders and includes photographs of London at different ages, Jack
and Charmian at their ranch, and photographs of the building of their yacht, the Snark. Series four, Correspondence, consists
of five file folders and contains London's and Charmian's original typewritten and handwritten signed correspondence to friends.
Recipients include Frederick Irons Bamford, writer Anna Strunsky (Walling), and Dr. William S. Porter. Series five, Ephemera,
consists of six file folders and contains pawn tickets, brochures, programs, cards, broadsides, and posters. The Ruskin Club
programs include London as a featured speaker.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Holman, Zena G.
London, Jack, 1876-1916
London, Charmian, 1871-1955
London, Joan, 1901-1971
Shepard, Eliza London
Bamford, Frederick Irons
Walling, Anna Strunsky, 1879-1964
Porter, Dr. William S.
Jack London State Historic Park (Calif.)
California. Dept. of Parks and Recreation
Glen Ellen, (Calif.)
American literature—20th century
Authors, American—20th century