When White Fang was published in 1906, Jack London was the most widely read writer in the United States and was also popular in Europe, thanks to his second novel, The Call of the Wild (1903). (London had become, as well, the first millionaire American author.) The two novels are related in that while The Call of the Wild tells the story of a dog who becomes wild and leads a wolf pack, White Fang is the life story of a wolf who comes, after many hardships dealt him by both man and nature, to live a dog’s life with a loving master. Both novels, along with scores of London’s short stories, are set in the land the author called simply “The North”—the Yukon Territory to which he once traveled as a gold prospector.
Though not considered the literary equal of The Call of the Wild, White Fang was an immediate commercial success and continues to be popular a century after its initial publication. In its unblinking portrayals of nature’s unforgiving harshness, of humankind’s capacity for both shocking brutality and unconditional love, and of the struggle for survival that is common to all life, White Fang is classic London.