Introducing . . .
Born and raised throughout the southern
United States (both west and east coasts), Mike Wilson has been reading, studying, and enjoying the writings
of Jack London since he was a teenager in the mid-1960s. As has
been the case with countless others, Mike was inspired by the
earthy eloquence of Londons prose in Martin Eden to
dream of someday becoming an author himself. Over the years and
through the pages of Jacks great novels like The Call
of the Wild and White Fang, Mikes respect for
Londons work grew.
Like millions of other readers, Mike was introduced to his first
historical perspective of Jack London through Irving Stones
Sailor on Horseback. When Mike moved to Sonoma County in
the late 1970s, he was delighted at being able to visit Jack London
State Park in Glen Ellen. But, he was also surprised to find that
many people believed sordid versions of Jacks behavior and
habits to be fact. Mike recognized the source for many of these
opinions as being Irving Stones biography about Jack. The
more he learned, the more he found these stories to be inconsistent
with his understanding and impressions of the man and his work.
It was indeed fortunate that nearby in the town of Glen Ellen
at the World of Jack London Bookstore, Mr. Russ Kingman, the acknowledged
top world expert on London his life and works was
very accessible and ready to frankly answer all of Mikes
questions about his hero.
Mike also had the opportunity to frequently visit Jacks
youngest daughter, Becky, before her demise. In fact, Becky had
the opportunity to see Mikes portrayal firsthand on several
occasions; she not only enjoyed his representation of her father
(It was just like listening to Daddy) but also had
heartfelt compliments regarding his portrayal.
By the mid-1980s, because of his expanded studies, Mike was recognized
by many people locally as an emerging expert on Jack London. It
therefore seemed only natural when in June of 1987, as part of
the Living History Day festivities at the Luther Burbank Home
and Gardens in Santa Rosa, Mike was approached by Kay Voliva,
chairperson of the event, to portray Jack London for the day.
At that time, Mike thought this portrayal would be a one-day appearance.
However, several schoolteachers who had brought students to the
event asked Mike if he would come to their schools and portray
Jack London. Mike was surprised and delighted. Because of word
of mouth recommendations, more and more teachers requested
Mike to appear as Jack for their pupils.
The requests for Mikes portrayal of Mr. London gradually
increased. By the end of 1987, Mike had made appearances as Jack
London for local school assemblies and classrooms, business clubs,
and even the local arts festival! By 1988, the number of Mikes
appearances as Jack grew dramatically, and what had started as
a single appearance had become an ongoing activity! Jack
was speaking to students, teachers, the Lions Club, the Optimists
Club, Masonic Lodges, and youth groups. Corporate executives,
visitors, celebrities, and tourists were introduced to Mikes
personalized tours of Jack London State Park.
Since then, Mikes hobby has evolved into a professional
portrayal, and many consider Mike to be a local treasure.
Mike is hired to guide tours of Jack London State Park for a wide
variety of visitors and groups, and continues to portray London
for schools, club meetings, festivals, and faires. His audiences
have encompassed every age group, from young schoolchildren to
senior citizens. In addition to his one-man portrayal and lecture,
Mike has developed and produced a one-man play about Jack London
which he presented to 1,500 schoolchildren three shows
in one day! The one-man play has since been utilized as a fund-raising
event by several non-profit groups.
Mikes portrayal reveals much of the true character of the
man who is considered by many to be the best American author of
this century good-natured and adventurous, self-educated
and astute, yet witty and vivacious. Mikes shows and lectures
trace Jacks life, from his birth in 1876 through his many
adventures and experiences, his efforts to become a successful
writer, his move to Sonoma County in 1905, and his death in 1916
at the age of 40. Filled with winsome anecdotes, personal glimpses,
and insights into turn-of-the-century America, Mikes sensitive
and in-depth portrayal has been enthusiastically applauded by
educators, business groups, and audiences of all ages. When Mike
portrays Jack London, you really believe you are in the presence
of this legendary author!
For most of the 1990s, Mike also brought Jack London to life for
thousands of visitors to Jack London Square in Oakland. And, in
1994, he was recruited by Disney Educational Productions to work
as a consultant on their Jack London CD which was released in
conjunction with their movie version of White Fang.
Mike continues to expand his knowledge of Jack Londons life
and work through constant reading and research. His book on Jack
Londons experiences in the Klondike Gold Rush, Jack Londons
Klondike Adventure, was published in Spring 2000 and continues
to receive accolades. Mike has completed a definitive book on
the first half of Jack Londons life; it is currently in
the process of being edited. In 2011, he finished a musical
the text and the songs, both music and lyrics about Jack
and the oyster pirates and life on the Oakland waterfront in the
1890s; final touches on the instrumentation for the songs are
now (February 2012) being completed.
From 19901995, Mike and his wife Margie served on the Jack
London Foundations Board of Directors. They continue to
volunteer their services. Mike also served for several years on
the founding Advisory Board for the Jack London Museum (in Jack
London Village, Jack London Square, Oakland, California).
In January 2005, Mike received the coveted Jack London Man of
the Year award from the Jack London Foundation. Click
here to see photos of the event. He has been nominated for
inclusion in 2000 Outstanding Writers of the 20th Century
and the 28th edition of the Dictionary of International Biography.
Previously, he received a Certificate of Merit from the Jack London
Foundation (1995) and the Valley Merit Award from Santa Rosa Valley
Scottish Rite (1992).
Mike and Margie also work together professionally in their writing
and publishing business. They currently reside in western Sonoma
of June 2007 and after more than two decades of bringing Jack
London to life for literally thousands of people, Mike has decided
to retire from his first-person portrayal. However, he will still
be available to do guided tours of Jack London State Park or come
to your class, event, or symposium as a guest speaker. He will
utilize all the knowledge and expertise from his years of studying
the life and times of Jack London, but he will no longer be dressed
and speaking as Jack London.