The Two Jacks – and the origins of surfing in Hawaii

Two Jacks01

The picture above – sorry for the quality – shows, on the right, the famous author Jack London. Standing alongside him is ALC ‘Jack’ Atkinson, eldest son of Alatau Atkinson and grandson of Thomas Witlam Atkinson.

It was taken in Hawaii in 1907 on one of Jack London’s many visits to the islands he first visited in 1904. He quickly struck up a relationship with Jack Atkinson and the two men were soon known as ‘The Two Jacks’, which is how they are described by Jack London’s wife Charmian in her book Jack London and Hawaii (Mills and Boon, London, 1918). Jack Atkinson was effectively governor of Hawaii at this time and introduced the other Jack to the pleasures of surfing. The picture above appeared in this book.

According to the website Legendary Surfers, “Jack London first arrived in Hawaii in 1904 and at the end of June, like all visitors of renown, was given his first experience with a surf-ride at Waikiki by local expert canoe-surfers, Jack Atkinson and Col. McFarlane.” Atkinson later went on to found the Outriggers Canoe Club, the world’s first surfing club, where he also introduced Alice Roosevelt, daughter of US President Theodore Roosevelt, to the pleasures of surfing. Kenneth Atkinson, Alatau’s youngest son, was also a keen surfer who played an active role in the early days of surfing in Hawaii.

Finally, just a quick note to say that this is the 100th posting on this blog, creating an unrivalled body of information on the remarkable exploits of the Atkinson family. Whew!

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