Herman Melville


A picture of the author Herman Melville

Herman Melville belongs to the group of artists whose works grew in importance and stature after after their deaths. Born in New York City in 1819, he published Moby-Dick; or The Whale in 1851, the year before Harriet Beecher Stowe was to publish Uncle Tom's Cabin and the year after Nathanial Hawthorne published The Scarlet Letter.

Herman Melville grew up listening to searfaring tales. Melville was enthralled with the yarns about whaling expeditions and other adventures at sea. In 1839, at the age of 20, he took to the seas himself, starting off as a cabin boy on the merchant ship St. Lawrence. January of 1841 found him aboard the whaling ship Acushent. After a string of adventures, some of them rather misbegotten, he left the sea and settled into his mother's house in the fall of 1844, determined to write about his adventures.

His first manuscript, for the novel Typee was turned down in America, partly because the publishers had difficulty believing the tales were true. The book was published in England in February 1846 and launched his career and ambitions. Things progressed well for Melville; he published more novels and on an upswing in his career he married Elizabeth Shaw, the daughter of the Chief Justice of Massachusetts. Melville burnished his portfolio, quickly turning out Omoo in 1847, Mardi in 1849, then Redburn in 1849, and White-Jacket in 1850.

Then Herman Melville turned to a higher amibtion, the writing of Moby-Dick. In June of 1850, he described the book to his publisher in England as, "a romance of adventure, founded upon certain wild legends in the Southern Sperm Whale Fisheries." In early August, Melville met and became friends with Nathaniel Hawthorne, to whom Moby-Dick would be dedicated. The novel appeared in England on October 18th, 1851 as The Whale and on November 14th in America where it as published as Moby-Dick. Unfortunately, the novel was not well recieved and it marked a turn in Melville's fortunes. It was disliked by critics and only sold 3,000 copies during his lifetime.

Unlike his contemporaries, Melville's career faded after the publication of Moby Dick and he was considered a failure when he passed away in 1891; the local paper where he died referred to him as a "long forgotten" author. His work was widely recognized after his death and Melville has taken his place amongst the literary giants.

Herman Melville dedicated Moby Dick to Nathaniel Hawthorne writing: "In token of my admiration for his genius, this book is inscribed to Nathaniel Hawthorne."

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A Meditation
America
An Uninscribed Monument
A Requiem
Art
Aurora Borealis
A Utilitarian View Of The Monitor's Fight
Ball's Bluff
Bridegroom Dick 1876
Chattanooga
Commemorative Of A Naval Victory
Dirge
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Far Off-Shore
"Formerly A Slave"
From The Conflict Of Convictions
Gold
Herba Santa
Inscription
In The Prison Pen
Invocation
Jack Roy
John Marr And Other Sailors
L'Envoi
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Lone Founts
Malvern Hill
Marlena
Monody
Off Cape Colonna
Old Counsel
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Sheridan At Cedar Creek
Song Of Yoomy
Stonewall Jackson
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The New Zealot To The Sun
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The Ravaged Villa
The Released Rebel Prisoner
The Stone Fleet
The Swamp Angel
The Temeraire
The Tuft Of Kelp
Tom Deadlight
To Ned
To The Master Of The Meteor
We Fish

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Anton Chekhov
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Susan Glaspell
Mark Twain
Edgar Allan Poe
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Herman Melville
Stephen Leacock
Kate Chopin
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson