Jack London (1876-1916) was easily the most successful and best-known writer in America in the first decade of the 20th century. He is best known for his books, The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and The Sea-Wolf, and a few short stories, such as "To Build a Fire" and "The White Silence." He was a productive writer whose fiction traveled through three lands and their cultures such as the Yukon, California, and the South Pacific. His most famous writings included war, boxing stories, and the life of the Molokai lepers. "He was among the most influential people of his day, who understood how to use the media to market his self-created image of a once poor boy to now famous writer"(biography of Jack London). He left over fifty books of novels, stories, journalism, and essays. London was born in San Francisco to an unmarried mother, Flora Wellman. His father may have been William Chaney, a journalist, and lawyer. Because Flora was ill, for eight months Jack was raised by an ex-slave, Virginia Prentiss. Late in 1876, Flora married John London, a partially disabled Civil War veteran, who adopted Jack. The family moved around the Bay area for a while before settling in Oakland, where Jack completed grade school. When he was young, London worked at different hard jobs. He searched for oysters on San Francisco Bay, served on a fish patrol, sailed the Pacific on a sealing ship, hoboed around the country, and returned to attend high school at age 19. During that time, he became familiar with socialism. He ran unsuccessfully several times for Mayor of Oakland. London's great love became agriculture, and he often said he wrote to support his Beauty Ranch in Glen Ellen. He brought techniques observed in Japan, like terracing and manure spreading and used them on his farm. Troubled by physical problems, during his thirties, London developed kidney disease. He died on November 22, 1916. Following his death, for a number of reasons a myth developed in which he was made up to be an alcoholic womanizer who committed suicide.