If You Missed the Lecture “Was Jack London a Nature Faker?”…

You can still read about the “nature faker” controversy in a blog post by Donna Braden, Curator of Public Life at The Henry Ford. Here’s an excerpt from her post:

“The Nature Faker controversy had its roots in Americans’ growing appreciation for nature during the late 19th century. Natural areas suddenly seemed to offer a rejuvenating respite from the chaos, crowds, and machine-age clatter of urban life. This led to the creation of America’s national parks (Yellowstone being the first in 1872) as well as public parks and nature preserves closer to home.


Children’s Museum Nature Study Club in Bedford Park, New York, 1890-1915. From the collections of The Henry Ford

During the heyday of this “cult of nature,” nature writing became immensely popular. One particular genre that emerged was the so-called “realistic” wild animal story. For the first time in popular literature, wild animals were depicted in a positive light—as compassionate creatures with which readers could sympathize.

Jack London was one of many authors at this time who wrote in this genre. In his book The Call of the Wild (1903), London revealed the thoughts and emotions of his dog-hero, Buck, with such sophistication and literary skill that it was easy for readers to become convinced that London was truly revealing Buck’s innermost self.

Enter naturalist John Burroughs—in his 60’s by this time—who was known far and wide for his many essays. These received praise in both literary and scientific circles, as Burroughs believed in both reporting the objective facts of nature and describing one’s subjective feelings. But he was adamant that these should remain clear and separate.”


Henry Ford and John Burroughs at Woodchuck Lodge, Roxbury, New York, 1915. From the collections of The Henry Ford

Read more at The Henry Ford’s blog!