Herman Melville
Bartleby the Scrivener A Story of Wall Street
Benito Cereno
Billy Budd
I and My Chimney
Moby Dick or, The Whale
Omoo: Adventures in the South Seas
Poor Man's Pudding
Rich Man's Crumbs
The Apple-Tree Table
The Lightning-Rod Man
The Paradise of Bachelors
The Piazza
The Tartarus of Maids


"A whale ship was my Yale College and my Harvard" (Moby Dick)

Herman Melville was born into a large, well-respected, literary family in New York in 1819. He contacted scarlet fever as a child - a condition which was to leave him with permanently weakened eyes and a fear of disease. Melville's family fell on hard times when their import business collapsed in 1830. The shock was too much for Allan Melville, Herman's father, who died two years later. The family was by this time much impoverished and Herman took a succession of menial and teaching jobs in an effort to support his large family. It was during this period that Melville first fell in love with the sea, after joining the Merchant Ship St. Lawrence on a journey to Liverpool. Having exhausted all other possible means of employment, Melville set out on a whaler, the Acushnet, in January 1841.

The whaler voyaged to Polynesia, a land of mystery and romance which Melville was later to describe in Typee. Melville lived with the cannibalistic Typee people before joining another whaler, the Lucy Ann. When this voyage proved unsuccessful, he joined a mutiny and spent some time in a Polynesian jail. He described this period in his second novel, Omoo. After several more voyages, and many brushes with disaster, Melville returned home to find his family's fortunes much improved.

Melville began to write and his novels caused an immediate impact, both of critical acclaim and public outrage. In 1847 he married Elizabeth Shaw, a young woman from a well respected Massachusetts family. Melville could now support his family through his writing. He wrote several novels which were less well received until the brilliant Moby Dick (originally called "The Whale") was finished in 1850. The novel was not an instant success, but has since become regarded as one of the greatest works in American literature.

Towards the end of his life, Melville began to concentrate on writing poetry, which he saw as a superior form of literature to the novel. His poems were not successful financially and, despite being thought of now as one of the most significant American authors, he died in relative poverty in New York City in 1891.

Stanley Feldberg Homepage Information site containing a biography, further readings about the author and a bibliography
Melville Organisation Comprehensive guide of information about Herman Melville. Includes a complete bibliography of his biography, letter, journals, etc.
Calendar of Authors Resource site which contains a biography and further information on Melville
Mindspring.com A resource site including a brief biography, a message board, term paper helper, and further links

  By PanEris using Melati.

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