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Literature of the gold rush

Some of the tens of thousands men and women who rushed to the Klondike gold fields and returned with empty pockets tried to publish their tales in writings. A great number of stampeder autobiographies appeared over the next few decades, while hundreds of newspapers and magazines printed returning stampeders' stories. The two most noted writers to emerge from the Klondike Gold Rush were Robert Service and Jack London:

Robert Service (1874 - 1958)
Although Robert Service made his first trip to the Yukon seven years after the rush had begun, he was still able to capture the motions and thrills of those who made the journey. The British born poet worked as a bank employee at Whitehorse and published some poems in the local newspaper, the White Horse Star. With the printing of "The Cremation of Sam McGee" Service gained popularity throughout the country. Later on he worked as a correspondent for the Toronto Star and died in France 1958. Though Robert Service is mostly unknown in Europe, his poems, all dealing with the gold rush, are an important part of literature in those regions.

There are strange things done in the midnight sun

By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales

That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,

But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Laberge

I cremated Sam McGee.

Robert Service
The Cremation of Sam McGee

Jack London (1876 - 1916)
Born in San Francisco, London was twenty years old when the great Klondike gold discovery was made and, unlike Robert Service, he lived and worked in the midst of the excitement. Even as a boy, working at various jobs on ships, London seemed to enjoy writing as much as adventure, and during the years of 1897 and 1898, when he was at the Klondike gold fields, London was able to blend these two passions. After he returned to California without the expected gold, he began writing novels about life in the far north. His Klondike writings turned out to be London's gold mine and with novels like "The Call of the Wild" and "White Fang" he gained international popularity and became the highest paid writer of his days. Until his death in 1916, London produced 50 books and hundreds of short stories.



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