August 1st Birthday Love: Herman Melville

The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in False Bay off the Southern Africa Coast. | Sergey Uryadnikov

“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”

-Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
Herman Melville

Happy birthday to Herman Melville, born on this day August 1, 1819 in New York City. Widely acclaimed for his 1851 novel Moby-Dick, a.k.a. The Whale, Melville is a literary icon. He is also well known for his novella Billy Budd and his short stories “Benito Cereno” and “Bartleby, the Scrivener.” Melville wrote poetry, too, and published the collection Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War in 1866 and his epic poem Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land in 1876.

Melville always had a love for the sea, and joined the merchant ship St. Lawrence as a hand on June 1, 1839. Along with his works of fiction, he also wrote of his travels, and his 1849 book Redburn: His First Voyage was an account of his adventures aboard the St. Lawrence. The first book Melville wrote, Typee, written in 1846, detailed his travels near the Taipi Valley. And his second book Omoo (1847) was about his time in the South Pacific. Later in 1850 he wrote of his naval experiences on the USS Neversink in his book White-Jacket.

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