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Jack London’s Photography

July 28, 2023
by the gentle author

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Jack London took photographs alongside his work as a writer throughout his life, creating a distinguished body of photography that stands upon its own merits beside his literary achievements. In 1903, the first edition of his account of life in the East End, The People of the Abyss, was illustrated with over a hundred photographs complementing the text which were omitted in later reprints.

Homeless people in Itchy Park, Spitalfields

“In the shadow of Christ Church, Spitalfields, I saw a sight …

… I never wish to see again”

“Tottery old men and women were searching in the garbage thrown in the mud”

Drunken women fighting on a rooftop

Frying Pan Alley, Spitalfields

Before Whitechapel Workhouse in Vallance Rd

Casual ward of Whitechapel Workhouse

“Only to be seen were the policemen, flashing their dark lanterns into doorways and alleys”

Homeless sleepers under Tower Bridge

“For an hour we stood quietly in this packed courtyard” – Salvation Army Shelter

London Hospital, Whitechapel

In Bethnal Green

Working men’s homes, Wentworth St

A small doss-house

An East End interior

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. July 28, 2023

    I’m embarrassed to say that I never knew author Jack London was also a photographer. And
    thank you, GA, for always shining a light. After I saw this post today, I revisited my copy of “How The Other Half Lives” by Jacob Riis. There are strong common threads here, and stark awakenings
    and shuddering sadness. Photos like these confront us with searing realities, and we can’t look away.

  2. Mark permalink
    July 28, 2023

    Street sleeping in the capital has never really gone away. The paved with gold nonsense, swallowed by the young, drug addled, abused and poor.
    Unless the next government pull their finger out, don’t expect a decrease in what the tories would no doubt like to call outdoor, self imposed dwelling.

  3. Das Haus permalink
    July 28, 2023

    Hope we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. These images are a stark reminder to the society building the welfare safety nets. Now being dismantled.

  4. John Cunningham permalink
    August 1, 2023

    Jack London did take some great photos during his sojourn in the East End. However, in his writings about this period he was very clear in in his contempt for the poor people he temporarily lived amongst.

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