Herman Melville

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Herman Melville

American novelist, short story writer, and poet.


Herman Melville was born in New York, New York on August 1, 1819 (Hom-Par 1913). According to Kalasky Melville had a comfortable will to do childhood up until 1832 the year his father died. He was forced to quit his studies at New York Male High School to help support his family. He worked for his brothers fur business, at a bank as a clerk, and taught at numerous schools (Kalasky 324).

On June 5, 1839 Melville shipped off as a crew member aboard St. Lawrence, a packet ship headed for Liverpool, New England (Hillway 13). He returned to New York in October of the same year and continued his odd jobs. Mr. Melville shipped off again on January 3, 1841 as a common seaman aboard the whaling ship Acushnet, bound for the South Seas from Fairhaven , Massachusetts (14).

This voyage turned out to be his most important experience, and provided the background for his first two novels, Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life and its sequel, Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Sea (Kalasky 324). Immediate success came to Melville from these two adventure novels. In 1847, Melville married Elizabeth Shaw and had four children with her, three of them never lived past their childhood (Hom-Par 1914). Mardi a novel filled with metaphysical and philosophical questions was published in 1849, and marked the beginning of his down-fall (Kalasky 324). Mr. Melville then returned to narrative adventures and produced Redburn (1849) a novel of his first sea voyage, and White-Jacket (1850). The two works regained some of his popularity (324).

According to SoftKey Multimedia Herman Melville moved to a farm near Pittsfield, Massachusetts (1850), where he became intimate friends with Nathaniel Hawthorne, to whom he dedicated Moby-Dick.