Jack London grew up in Oakland, California. He didn't like school much, but his early passion for writing was encouraged by city librarian Ina Coolbrith. Though he attended one year of college at the University of California, his real education was out in the rough and tumble world.
Jack joined the great Klondike gold rush, and got there ahead of the crowd. His expertise with boats, earned as an oyster pirate on San Francisco Bay, made him a valuable man on the Yukon River in the year 1898. He didn't do well as a miner (most didn't) but he travelled around and gathered material that he would spin into books for years afterwards.
By the time he died in 1916, at the age of 40, he had written over 50 books. At one time London was the most published author in the world. This was due to a combination of the great appeal of his books (especially the animal stories), and the fact that we was a lifelong socialist, and thus favored in the Soviet Union and its satellites.
The tiny cabin London lived in through a Yukon winter was dismantled and re-assembled to make two cabins. One is now in Dawson City (not too far from where the original stood), and the other is at Jack London Square in Oakland. Near the end of Jack's short life he bought a ranch north of Sonoma (the Valley of the Moon). His Beauty Ranch (with the ruins of Wolf House, the dream house that burned down before he could move in) is in Jack London State Park in the Sonoma Valley.