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Who was the real Charmian London?

Posted on March 2, 2017 by Sonoma Valley Sun

March 11. Jack London wasn’t a solitary genius as most biographers and scholars imagine, writes Iris Jamahl Dunkle, rather he was part of a vibrant literary team. His partner was his wife, Charmain, “an avid reader, a fine equestrian, a pianist and a talented writer who created one of the most successful literary partnerships in the history of American letters.”

Dunkle will explore “Who Was the Real Charmian Kittredge London? Exploring the Lives of Jack and Charmian London” in a March 11 lecture for the Sonoma Valley Historical Society. The event at the Sonoma Community Center begins at 2 p.m.

586e88e382cfbcf8988588908402dee2Dunkle is the co-author, with Susan Nuernberg of a Charmian London biography. Their research showed that Chairmian, “was a modern woman who had a status of her own.” She was a serious writer, particularly in the genre of travel writing. Her full-length works include, “The Log of the Snark” (1915), “Our Hawaii” (1917), “The Book of Jack London” (1921) and “The New Hawaii” (1923).

She kept notes and travel diaries for London, wrote character studies, and is said to have written passages of some of his works. In an essay, Dunkle and Nuernberg quote Charmian telling writer Upton Sinclair, “Jack and I worked right together for sixteen years, and I typed everything he wrote, and he was the sort who shared everything almost moment by moment.”

After London died in 1916, Charmian dealt with London’s literary estate, which entailed more than 50 works of fiction and non-fiction and hundreds of short stories and letters translated into 70 languages. She died in 1955 at the age of 83.

Dunkle is the current Poet Laureate of Sonoma County. She is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, “Gold Passage” and, most recently, “There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air.” Her latest collection focuses on the history of Sonoma County and includes poems titled “Dear Sebastopol,” “Before the Union Man Caused the Apple Strike,” and “Moon Over Laguna de Santa Rosa,” among others. She teaches writing and literature at Napa Valley College and is on the staff of the Napa Valley Writers conference.

She received her B.A. from the George Washington University, her M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University, and her Ph.D. in American Literature from Case Western Reserve University.

The lecture is Saturday, March 11, at 2 p.m. $5 general, free to Society members. Sonoma Community Center, Sonoma. 276 East Napa Street Sonoma.



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