At the height of his popularity, in 1913, Jack London was said to be the 'highest paid, best known and most popular writer in the world', but the road to success was not an easy one. The son of an itinerant Irish astrologer, he was brought up in poverty and by fifteen had served thirty days hard labour for vagrancy. After a period as a seaman and oyster pirate, it was the 'Communist Manifesto' that inspired London to pull his life together. Enrolling in Oakland High School, he studied intensively and was able to enter the University of California the following year. In 1897 he joined the Klondike Gold Rush and sold the account of his adventures to Atlantic Monthly as 'An Odyssey of the North'. It was also this trip which inspired many of his popular adventure stories, including his most famous novel, published in 1903, 'The Call of the Wild'. Throughout his success, London remained a commited socialist and has been described as 'one of the great revolutionary figures' of American history. But by the age of fourty he was suffering from overwork and, in despair over his declining talents and increasing financial difficulties, he died of an overdose of drugs - believed to have been deliberate.