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Herman Melville (1819-1891)

Best known for his great literary work of Moby Dick, Herman Melville is among the most prolific writers of a generation. Herman was the first American to have his works published by the Library of America after collecting them. Herman’s literary acclaim flared in the 1840′s where it was at its pick.

However, the fast paced and indeed booming career was dealt a major blow in the mid 1850′s owing to Herman’s declining relevance and his subsequent sinking into oblivion to the point that he was not popular at the point of his death. Herman’s body of literary work was not fully appreciated until the 20th century. Suffice to say that most of his work was recognized as works of art after his death including the master piece Moby Dick. It is no wonder that he was among the first American novelists to have his work collected and thereafter published by the Library of America.

Born on August 1st 1891 to Allan and Maria Gansevoort Melvill, in the town of New York City, a largely affluent and successful Boston family, Herman was the third born out of eight children. Their family however went through very trying times in that period having being forced to relocate and move to Albany in 1830 where his father Allan tried his hand at the fur business a venture which proved uneventful. This forced them to declare bankruptcy and his father died shortly after, leaving Herman at the tender age of twelve. Herman attended Albany Academy at varying times notably from October 1830 to October of the next year and thereafter from October 1836 to March 1837. During this period Herman studied the classics. His early working life involved working as a hand in a ship on a voyage to Liverpool and later around Cape Horn. The early professional life of Herman took him on many great adventures. He lived for three weeks with the Typee, a community considered to be cannibals. The adventures of working in a ship see Herman traverse through a myriad of destinations amid the Australian ship headed for Tahiti and a further expedition to Hawaii. In August of 1847 on the 4th, Herman married Elizabeth Shaw with who they had four children two girls and two boys.

An evident feature of the works of Herman is the fact that most of his work lay its foundation in his earlier adventure while working on the ships to various destinations. Typee, his first book, mirrors his experiences living among the Typee community for the three weeks. The book talks of a marvelous love affair with a gorgeous local girl. His second book, omoo, has a similar base. The first book was an instant best seller and so was his second book. This books were major contributors to his rise to literary acclaim as a writer to reckon with and an excellent adventure writer. However, many of his subsequent works did not resonate well with most of his readers hence his rapid decline in the mid 1850′s. The same cannot be said of the increased rise to literary honors in the 20th century. His body of work gained popularity after his death on September 28th 1891 at the age of 72.

One can comfortably say that most of his works were ahead of his generation. Some of his most memorable poems include: A dirge for McPherson, Ball’s Bluff: A reverie, a requiem, America, Dirge and Art. These poems are some of the most popular poems by Herman. In addition, from his vast body of literary work are a number of excellent quotes. An excellent such quote is “let us speak, but we shall, all our mistakes and weaknesses, for it’is a show of strength to those who are weak, to know about and out it, this is not in a set of a way and ostentatiously, but it is incidentally and without premeditation.” In addition Herman’s book Moby Dick has garnered a lot of praise as one of the best literary classics of all time. It is evident that it is influenced by his earlier adventures as a sailor. It talks of a sailor, Ishmael, and his adventures on a ship under Captain Ahab and the quest to look for the great giant white whale, Moby dick.
Indeed, Herman Melville is one of the greatest writers in America.

Biography, Photos, Quotes of Herman Melville