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Herman Melville

Herman MelvilleBorn: 1-Aug-1819
Birthplace: New York City
Died: 28-Sep-1891
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Bisexual
Occupation: Author

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Moby Dick

Military service: Merchant shipping 1839-44

American author, born in New York City on the 1st of August 1819. He shipped as a cabin boy at the age of eighteen, thus being enabled to make his first visit to England, and at twenty-two sailed for a long whaling cruise in the Pacific. After a year and a half he deserted his ship at the Marquesas Islands, on account of the cruelty of the captain; was captured by cannibals on the island of Nukahiva, and detained, without hardship, for four months; was rescued by the crew of an Australian vessel, which he joined, and two years later reached New York. Thereafter, with the exception of a passenger voyage around the world in 1860, Melville remained in the United States, devoting himself to literature -- though for a considerable period (1866-85) he held a post in the New York custom-house -- and being perhaps Nathaniel Hawthorne's most intimate friend among the literary men of America. His writings are numerous, and of varying merit; his verse, patriotic and other, is forgotten; and his works of fiction and of travel are of irregular execution. Nevertheless, few authors have been enabled so freely to introduce romantic personal experiences into their books: in his first work, Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life, or Four Months' Residence in a Valley of the Marquesas (1846), he described his escape from the cannibals; while in Omoo, a Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas (1847), White Jacket, or The World in a Man-of-War (1850), and especially Moby Dick, or The Whale (1851), he portrayed seafaring life and character with vigor and originality, and from a personal knowledge equal to that of Cooper, Marryat or Clark Russell. But these records of adventure were followed by other tales so turgid, eccentric, opinionative, and loosely written as to seem the work of another author. Melville was the product of a period in American literature when the fiction written by writers below Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe and Hawthorne was measured by humble artistic standards. He died in New York on the 28th of September 1891.

Wife: Elizabeth Shaw (m. 4-Aug-1847, until his death, two sons, two daughters)
Son: Malcolm Melville (b. 16-Feb-1849)
Son: Stanwix Melville (b. 22-Oct-1851)
Daughter: Elizabeth Melville (b. 1853)
Daughter: Frances Melville (b. 2-Mar-1855)

    High School: New York Male High School (1825-9)
    High School: Grammar School of Columbia College (1829-30)
    High School: Albany Academy (1830-1)

    Dutch Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Sciatica

Author of books:
Typee; or, A Peep at Polynesian Life (1846, novel)
Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas (1847, nonfiction)
Mardi, and a Voyage Thither (1849, novel)
Redburn: His First Voyage (1849, nonfiction)
White-Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War (1850, novel)
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale (1851, novel)
The Piazza Tales (1856, short stories)
Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866, poetry)

Appears on postage stamps:
USA, Scott #2094 (20 cents, issued 1-Aug-1984)

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