A Journey into Adventure with Mr. and Mrs. Jack London
The Foundation has recently acquired a lovely new piece for the California State Library’s California History Section. This acquisition is a signed first edition of Charmian K. London’s The Log of the Snark, which was published in October of 1915 by The MacMillan Company. Charmian K. London was the wife of famous California author Jack London. During their marriage, the two embarked on many wild adventures together. One of these wild adventures was a sailing voyage on the Londons’ newly commissioned boat the Snark from San Francisco, California, to the Cannibal Islands (Solomon Islands) in the South Seas. It was a journey that lasted over two years and not only brought the accompanying group of friends many trials and tribulations but also many wonderful experiences and memories.
The Log of the Snark is Charmian’s journal that she kept during the long, exciting, and at times treacherous journey. In fact, all letter writing was forbidden due to Jack’s dislike of the practice. However, once Charmian completed the journal in 1915, she delivered it to friends and family as a substitute for correspondence about the amazing trip. The signature on the inside of this beautiful acquisition reads:
Well, here’s the old “log,” between covers at last!
November 23, 1915
It isn’t known who Jessie is, but they must have been close to Mrs.London to receive such a special gift.
Our special acquisition also comes with an original photograph that is pasted into the inside front cover opposite the signature page. This picture capturing Jack, Charmian, and their newly adopted dog was taken in Pendruffyn, Guadalcanal, sometime during their stay there. The adopted dog, Peggy, ended up accompanying them through the rest of their voyage. The book is illustrated with various other pictures taken by both Jack and Charmian while aboard the Snark and while discovering the many different islands they visited. Images within the book show insights of the trip, ranging from the Snark being built in the San Francisco Bay, to its last moments in the Londons’ hands when it was careened for repairs and left for salvage at the end of its journey in Meringue.
This offers an inside look into the lives of one of California’s most celebrated and famed writers, Jack London. It is a personal and behind the scenes view of London and his passionate desire for adventure, and his tenacity for braving the unknown. The inscription page of Charmian’s tribute to the trip is lovingly dedicated to Jack:
who made possible these happiest and most
wonderful pages of my life.
For after all, it was Jack’s idea to embark on this journey, and his disdain for letter writing that inspired the diligent journaling of Charmian that we now know as The Log of the Snark.