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November 8, 2017

14 Fascinating Photographs of Jack London's Second Wife, Charmian Kittredge, From Between the 1910s and 1930s

Charmian Kittredge London was the woman that became Jack London’s “mate woman” and life partner. She was born November 27, 1871 in Wilmington, CA, a suburb of Los Angeles. Her mother, Daisy Wiley Kittredge, died when she was 6 years old and she was raised by her Aunt Netta and Uncle Roscoe Eames in Oakland, CA.

Home schooled by Netta, Charmian studied literature, geography, and art. She had a genuine love for music and had the discipline to train herself to become an accomplished pianist, organist and singer. Netta instilled the ideals of feminism, vegetarianism, socialism and a modern outlook on sexual activities.

Charmian learned shorthand and typing skills from her Uncle, skills that would later help Jack in his writing career. She attended Mills College and supported herself by working as secretary to Susan B. Mills, President of the college. Her motto―”work as if you were to live forever, live as if you were to die tomorrow.”

Charmian was ambitious, both socially and intellectually and worked hard to advance herself. She went to work as a secretary for a shipping firm in San Francisco and earned enough money to support herself and travel to Europe. For this time period, it was very unusual for a woman to work in an office and be so independent. Charmian had a deep love of horses and was a woman of great physical courage. She rode her horse cross-saddle when women were riding English side-saddle and became an out-spoken advocate defending it.

Charmian and Jack fell in love in the summer of 1903 at a time when Jack’s marriage to Bessie Maddern had fallen apart. Jack was impressed that while Charmian knew domestic arts she refused to domesticate her mind and was better read than most of his friends. She was the comrade that he sought and game for adventure but not ultra feminine. They were married on November 20, 1905 shortly after Jack’s divorce was final. Their marriage was successful and lasted until Jack’s death in 1916.


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