The legend is Jack London. The inheritors of that legend are his descendants, Joan and Becky, daughters born to Jack and his first wife Bessie Maddern London. Two daughters born to Charmian Kittredge London, Jack's second wife, died tragically shortly after birth, leaving her unable to bear the much desired son that Jack expected. Therefore the line of descent, the only line from the progenitor, Jack London, is through Joan and Becky who continued that line through their children and grandchildren.
Jack London would have been forty-five years old had he lived to see the birth of his first grandchild, a son, Bart, born to Joan and Park Abbott on October 11, 1921. It is sort of odd to speculate as to Jack's probable jubilation upon holding the living breathing body of the next best thing to a son in his arms! Just think of his double joy when, four years later Becky would have presented him with still another grandson! Would the arrival of a son have altered the course of Jack's life? I tend to think of that possibility in view of his deep sorrow over the rejection by his own birth father, William Henry Chaney. Neither Joan nor Becky ever received a share in their father's estate, nor did they ever receive a cent of royalties due them under the laws of copyright. A 1911 holograph will probated in 1916 shortly after Jack's death effectively robbed two young girls of their rightful heritage. Yes, robbed. I will present the will in its entirety for your own assessment.
Before I go delving deeper into that storm tossed legend let me introduce myself; Helen Darcy Abbott, wife of Joan's only child, Bart Abbott. I want to say, also, that by the merest twist of fate, and with no credit of achievement on my part, I landed in the midst of history, not even recognizing it as such till some fifty years later when I opened Pandora's Box and found it full of worms. Forgive all this confusion of metaphors but that's how I feel about this mess I am compelled by outrage to expose.
In the beginning, when I fell in love and eventually married Bart Abbott, I had no idea that he was the grandson of the legendary Jack London. Belatedly, a mutual friend revealed this relationship by asking me if I knew what I was getting into!. Well No! I didn't! But what difference did it I wondered at the time, and what indeed did the friend mean by 'did I know what I was getting into'? I suppose history was what I was getting into ...50 years of history...
The history came through Joan. Her telling of it came slowly unraveling down through the twenty five years of close family activities until her death in 1971; a death that was to haunt me. Her voice and her memories were stilled and those who sought to silence her succeeded; for they sabotaged the book of her heart; JACK LONDON and HIS DAUGHTERS. The incomplete version was published in 1990, nineteen years after her death by Malcolm Margolin of Heyday Press, Berkeley. Four years later I was to find among Joan's papers her "Afterward", a series reflecting upon the personalities of her parents and of Charmian, and-of the role each played in a tragedy that engulfed two little girls and how she came to understand and forgive.
I do not intend to write the story of Joan's life. I leave that to the biographers. When you live close in family ties and having brought children into that life, you cannot view your husband's mother, your childrens' grandmother with the clear eye of the biographer. I hope to reveal the truth as I see it, a truth that has lain hidden under cover of either deliberate fraud, malicious intimidation, or benign omission lo! these many years since Jack London's premature death in 1916; a death that stunned the world, one that was to engender speculation and suspicion all the years up to the present.
I expect to challenge the powers that be and given the fact of just how powerful those people are who control everything relating to The Jack London Estate you may call me foolish. Just compare my challenge to that of Sancho Panza tilting at windmills, or to one who upsets apple carts to reveal the rotten apples under all that glossy bright red fruit.
It was two concerns of long standing that brought me to this point of challenge; one, the realization after Bart's death in 1991 that nothing had been resolved concerning the obvious fraud and collusion in the probate of Jack London's will which served in lieu of challenge to disinherit the two daughters of Jack London, his only living children. My other concern was the suppression of Joan's memoir, a shameful cruelty that served no useful purpose. Life itself and many sad deaths interfered with a promise I had made to myself, that I would solve the question of why Joan's poignant memoir; JACK LONDON and HIS DAUGHTERS was suppressed. That was all... Why?
I assigned myself the job of "Investigator". My first priority was to find proof so I could name the man who initiated the sabotage of Joan's book. I gathered four boxes of Joan's and Bart's papers from storage and went back up to our home in the Sierras where isolation afforded me the time. It took from May to October of 1994 to find the proof I needed. It also took a long table on which I could lay out letters, contracts, wills and such papers relating to my two major concerns.
When I began finding other wills, and dubious aspects regarding the probating of the 1911 will I got a little paranoid and hid these particular papers. My fear stemmed from remembering back to 1971 when, after Joan's death, we found her writing cabin had been broken into. All the papers she had stored in her tall oak filing cabinet and in her desk were scattered ankle deep all over the floor. Who did this and why has never been discovered. Is it possible, I still wonder, that an illusive 1916 will mentioned in one of the contracts was the object of the search?
I have no degrees in psychology nor in anything else that might give one license of some sort to pass judgement on others unless I can claim credit for living a long life of experience and may therefore pass judgement on those who have, either with malice or ignorance or with deliberate intent to defraud, harmed virtually all the members of Jack London's family, which includes: Jack's mother Flora, his first wife Bessie London, his two daughters, Joan and Becky and on down to their children and grandchildren. I have deliberately left out two members of Jack's family: his step-sister Eliza Shepard and his second wife, Charmian Kittredge London. These two women may or may not have suffered from their own malice and vindictiveness which they directed towards Bessie, the first wife, and the two little girls, Joan and Becky.
When I went back up the mountain and opened "Pandora's Box" I had no thought that I would find a jumble of clues that would lead me hither and yon up and down the years of those who lived close in the Jack London family. It is like an Agatha Christie mystery with many threads twisting and winding. Without my awareness the threads began the intertwining weaving process until a pattern began forming. Some may think I should have let it be. I have been threatened. I have been warned. I have also been encouraged. I will retrace the path of threads and show you the pattern. I do this for the true inheritors, Jack London's daughters and their children and grandchildren, who are also mine for I too am the progenitor.