Cover image for No mentor but myself : Jack London on writers and writing.
No mentor but myself : Jack London on writers and writing.
London, Jack, 1876-1916.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Works. Selections. 1999
Second edition, revised and expanded / edited by Dale L. Walker and Jeanne Campbell Reesman.
Publication Information:
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xii, 243 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
1st ed. isssued as: No mentor but myself : a collection of articles, essays, reviews, and letters on writing and writers / Jack London ; edited by Dale L. Walker ; foreword by Howard Lachtman. Port Washington, N.Y. : Kennikat Press, 1979.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3523.O46 A6 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Jack London, one of the most read and recognized figures in American literature, produced an immense body of work, including 22 novels, 200 short stories, memoirs, newspaper articles, book reviews, essays, and poems. A significant and revealing feature of London's literary life lies in his introspective observations on the craft of writing, brought together in this collection of essays, reviews, letters, and autobiographical writings. London's public role as a daring, carefree man of action has obscured the shrewd, disciplined, and methodical writer whose practical reflections and meditations on his profession provide a vivid portrait of the literary industry in turn-of-the-century America. For this edition, a significant amount of new material has been added. Reviews of the First Edition "Dale Walker has rendered a valuable service in his painstaking collection of London's writings about writers. He has included 43 selections, 20 of which are previously uncollected: 13 essays, and excerpts from London's two autobiographical works. The result is a remarkably comprehensive view of London 'the writer's writer.'"-- American Literary Realism "An absorbing account of how hard the writer worked to learn his craft. . . . We find a master prose stylist concerned with problems of selectivity and concrete issues of tone, form, atmosphere, and point of view."-- Modern Philology "A remarkable collection. . . . This is a firsthand look at a writer's honest and forthright opinions on his craft."-- Los Angeles Times

Author Notes

Dale L. Walker is a writer and independent scholar specializing in Western American history and Jack London studies. Jeanne Campbell Reesman is Professor of English at the University of Texas, San Antonio.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In addition to the original 43 essays, letters, and reviews included in the first edition, this volume contains an introduction by Reesman, a new section of 23 letters by London about writing, a bibliography, and a chronology. All of the added letters are also available in The Letters of Jack T. London, ed. by Earle Labor, Robert Leitz, and I. Milo Shepard (1988), with the exception of three: one regarding his story "To Build a Fire" (this letter does appear in The Critical Response to Jack London, ed. by Susan Nuernberg, 1995) and two to Charles Warren Stoddard (these are in the London collection of the Huntington Library). When it first appeared, a reviewer said in these pages that it showed London as "an astute critic, a clever and charismatic author" (CH, Sep'79). Since then London's talents and craftsmanship have been well documented in his Letters, his fiction (e.g.,The Complete Short Stories of Jack London, ed. by Labor, Leitz, and Shepard, CH, Jan'94), and criticism--e.g., Rereading Jack London, ed. by Leonard Cassuto and Reesman (CH, Feb'97), Reesman's Jack London: A Study of the Short Fiction (CH, Oct'99), and Critical Essays on Jack London, ed. by Jacqueline Tavernier-Courbin (1983). For general and undergraduate libraries with extensive London collections. ; University of Wisconsin--Oshkosh

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
About the Editorsp. 3
Original Selectionsp. 7
On the Writer's Philosophy of Life (1899)p. 7
Letter to Houghton Mifflin (1900)p. 11
Letter to Cloudesley Johns (1900)p. 15
The Question of a Name (1900)p. 18
First Aid to Rising Authors (1900)p. 23
Editorial Crimes (1901)p. 30
Review of The Octopus (1901)p. 33
Review of Foma Gordyeeff (1901)p. 37
Review of Lincoln and Other Poems (1901)p. 42
Again the Literary Aspirant (1902)p. 48
Getting Into Print (1903)p. 54
The Terrible and Tragic in Fiction (1903)p. 58
These Bones Shall Rise Again (1903)p. 65
Stranger Than Fiction (1903)p. 73
Jack London to the "Unknowns" (1905)p. 77
Review of The Long Day (1905)p. 79
What Life Means to Me (1906)p. 87
Letter to S. S. McClure (1906)p. 97
Review of The Jungle (1906)p. 98
Letter to The Independent (1907)p. 106
The Other Animals (1908)p. 108
Letter to Vanity Fair (July 1, 1909)p. 121
Letter to Vanity Fair (August 16, 1909)p. 123
Letter to Frank Harris (1909)p. 125
Letter to Sinclair Lewis (1910)p. 127
Introduction to The Red Hot Dollar (1911)p. 129
Letter to The American Hebrew (1911)p. 131
Letter to Maurice Magnus (1911)p. 132
A Classic of the Sea (1911)p. 134
Selections from John Barleycorn (1913)p. 138
Two Letters to Winston Churchill (1913)p. 145
Letter to Max Eastman (1913)p. 147
Four Letters to Aspiring Writers (1913-15)p. 148
Introduction to The Cry for Justice (1915)p. 154
A Letter Exchange with Joseph Conrad (1915)p. 157
Letter to Mary Austin (1915)p. 159
Letter to Armine Von Tempsky (1916)p. 161
Eight Factors of Literary Success (1917)p. 163
Selections from Martin Eden (1909)p. 165
New Selectionsp. 193
Letter to Bailey Millard (1906)p. 195
Letter to Albert Lee (1906)p. 199
Letter to the Editor, Cosmopolitan (1906)p. 202
Letter to George Brett (1907)p. 205
Telegram to the Century Company (1913)p. 208
Letter to "Mr. Revision Editor" (Woman's Home Companion) (1902)p. 210
A Selection of Letters to Charmian Kittredge (1904)p. 213
Two Letters to Charles Warren Stoddard (1900-1901)p. 218
Five Letters to Aspiring Writers (1913-15)p. 222
Letter to Anna Strunsky (1900)p. 228
Letter to Joan London (1915)p. 231
A Selection of Letters to George Sterling (1906-14)p. 235
Chronologyp. 239
Bibliography and Suggested Readingsp. 242