I would rather be ashes than dust. I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. 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. ~Jack London, 1916
Jack London was a hard charging, immensely popular author of 40-plus books when he bought a number of adjacent parcels of land in Glen Ellen, California between 1908 and 1913. He had studied the farming practices of Asia while working as a war correspondent and felt that Americans were ruining the soil with their methods and thought he could do better. With his usual immense energy, bravado and having plenty of money at his disposal he set about building “Beauty Ranch”.
In addition to getting the farm started, Jack also hired an architect to draw up plans for an immense 26 room stone mansion for himself and his wife Charmian. He named it “Wolf House” after the animals he loved and had written so much about. Just days before the couple was to move in, the house caught fire and burned to the ground leaving only its’ huge stone skeleton as a sad reminder of Jack’s dream home.
“Wolf House” was never rebuilt and Jack London died in 1916. He and Charmian are buried together on a hill behind it under a big stone taken from the ruins of “Wolf House”.