Fearless Female Friday: 10 Ways Charmian Kittredge London Transformed Herself

The Secret Life of Mrs. London



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10 ways Charmian Kittredge London transformed herself from an orphan to muse, editor, manager and wife of Jack London

1.   Charmian’s mother, Daisy, referred to her as Little Mischief, a name Charmian later embraced!

2.   When Daisy became obsessed with narcotics and the Bible, and finally died, Charmian was passed from one family to another, an orphan.

3.   Charmian went to live with her Aunt Netta, staunch believer in Free Love, and Charmian witnessed a constant stream of her aunt’s lovers.

4.   Aunt Netta kept Charmian locked in her room where she developed visions of heavenly bodies which she called her Beautitudes. She experienced these Beatitudes throughout her life, and Jack used them in his novels, specifically, The Star Rover.

5.   Young Charmian devoted herself to learning shorthand and typing (in the 1900’s secretaries and clerks were men!) By 14, she was assisting her Uncle Roscoe in teaching these skills!

6. By 16, she worked as a private secretary for the president of Mills College, in Oakland, California and paid her way through the school.

7. Her excellent manual dexterity at the typing keyboard transferred to piano, where she became a concert pianist.

8. While exercise was discouraged for girls and young women, Charmian became an excellent swimmer and champion horsewoman.

9. Charmian used this unconventional upbringing to her advantage, developing a captivating and gracious social manner that disguised the rich fantasy life inside her. She was described as a fascinating and charming woman.

10. Charmian reviewed Jack London’s first book, Son of a Wolf, for the Overland Journal. She recognized his writing talent immediately and wrote a rave review. But she also recognized he could use her help with grammar, description, even characterization. They started working together in 1900, and would write 50 books in the next 15 years.

I can tell you as an author, that pace is close to unimaginable! Charmian deserves to be recognized for her part in Jack London’s work.

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