Herman Melville
(1819-1891)

Died aged c. 72

Herman Melville (born Melvill; August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891) was an American novelist, short story writer and poet of the American Renaissance period. Among his best-known works are Moby-Dick (1851), Typee (1846), a romanticized account of his experiences in Polynesia, and Billy Budd, Sailor, a posthumously published novella. Although his reputation was not high at the time of his death, the centennial of his birth in 1919 was the starting point of a and Moby-Dick grew to be considered one of the great American novels. Melville was born in New York City, the third child of a prosperous merchant whose death in 1832 left the family in financial straits. He took to sea in 1839 as a common sailor on a merchant ship and then on the whaler Acushnet but he jumped ship in the Marquesas Islands. Typee, his first book, and its sequel, Omoo (1847), were travel-adventures based on his encounters with the peoples of the island. Their success gave him the financial security to marry Elizabeth Shaw, the daughter of a prominent Boston family. Mardi (1849), a romance-adventure and his first book not based on his own experience, was not well received. Redburn (1849) and White Jacket (1850), both tales based on his experience as a well-born young man at sea, were given respectable reviews but did not sell well enough to support his expanding family. Melville's growing literary ambition showed in Moby-Dick (1851), which took nearly a year and a half to write, but it did not find an audience and critics scorned his psychological novel Pierre: or, The Ambiguities (1852). From 1853 to 1856, Melville published short fiction in magazines, including "Benito Cereno" and "Bartleby, the Scrivener". In 1857, he traveled to England, toured the Near East, and published his last work of prose, The Confidence-Man (1857). He moved to New York in 1863 to take a position as Customs Inspector. From that point, Melville focused his creative powers on poetry. Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866) was his poetic reflection on the moral questions of the American Civil War. In 1867, his eldest child Malcolm died at home from a self-inflicted gunshot. Melville's metaphysical epic Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land was published in 1876. In 1886, his other son Stanwix died of apparent tuberculosis, and Melville retired. During his last years, he privately published two volumes of poetry, and left one volume unpublished. The novella Billy Budd was left unfinished at his death but was published posthumously in 1924. Melville died from cardiovascular disease in 1891.

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Commemorated on 5 plaques

Herman Melville 1819-1891 Author of Moby Dick lived here in 1849

25 Craven Street, London, United Kingdom where they lived (1849)

Herman Melville the American author resided from 1863 - 1891 at this site 104 East 26th Street where he wrote Billy Budd among other works

104 East 26th Street, NY 10010, New York, NY, United States where they lived (1863-1891) and wrote Billy Budd

Kentucky Historical Marker #1681

Louisville's Steamboat Era. River navigation in 18th century was by flatboat and keelboat. First steamboat, NEW ORLEANS, arrived in Louisville in autumn of 1811. City soon became steamboat center with six lines operating here. Hundreds of these boats were built in area. Wharf teemed with traffic through Civil War. Eight U.S. presidents arrived on this wharf or "levee." (Reverse) Visitors at Louisville Wharf James Monroe - June 1819 Andrew Jackson - June 1819 Alexis de Tocqueville - Dec. 1831 Washington Irving - Sept. 1832 Abraham Lincoln - Sept. 1841 Charles Dickens - Apr. 1842 Walt Whitman - Feb. 1848 Ralph Waldo Emerson - June 1850 Oliver W. Holmes - Sept. 1855 Herman Melville - Jan.1858

At the Wharf, 4th St., Louisville, KY, United States where they visited (1855)

Herman Melville author of "Moby Dick" family home 1838-1847 did his earliest writing and completed first two books here, "Typee" and "Omoo"

535, 1st Avenue, Lansingburgh, NY, United States where they lived (1838-1847)

"As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coats" Herman Melville, in Mazatlan march 28 - April 16, 1844

Mazatlán, Melville Hotel, 99 Constitución, Mexico where they stayed (1844)