Immensely popular novelist and social activist Jack London helped reframe the way people — especially Americans — thought about nature in the early 20th century. His most memorable stories are set in Alaska, where he spent a year as a prospector in the brutal conditions of the Klondike Gold Rush, developing scurvy and facing the unforgiving nature of the wild himself. Upon his return, he wrote The Call of the Wild (1903) and White Fang (1906), as well as many other well-known works, and his writing propelled him to worldwide fame.
London was an atheist, memorably quoted as saying "I believe that when I am dead, I am dead. I believe that with my death I am just as much obliterated as the last mosquito you and I squashed." His willingness to face conditions that could easily become deadly for the sake of sucking out all the marrow of life is the source of my favorite quote of his: "The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." He died, at the age of forty, in 1916.
For these covers, I transcribed the quote, in black, atop a translucent grey rectangle. The quote sits over a photograph of prospectors ascending the unforgiving Chilkoot Trail, hoping to seek their fortunes in the harsh wilderness. I used a sheet single of the 1986 Jack London issue from the Great Americans series (Scott #2182) and a 1998 Klondike Gold Rush stamp (Scott #3235). They are cancelled with a pictorial postmark sponsored by the 2016 WESTPEX Stamp Show marking the 100th anniversary of the death of Jack London, from Burlingame, California dated April 29, 2016.