Profession: Moby Dick Author
Why Famous: Melville is an American writer renowned for 'Moby-Dick'—the epic story of Captain Ahab's mad quest to harpoon the White Whale that took his leg. This book, though known by far more than have read it, and even known for its length and difficulty, has since been considered one of the great American novels.
Alongside this, Melville also wrote a number of other well regarded novels and short stories—from 'Benito Cereno' and 'Billy Budd' to 'The Lightning-Rod Man.'
Notably, much of Melville's oeuvre revolves around the sea; and Melville himself was a sailor first on a merchant ship, then a whaler. He jumped ship in the summer of 1842 while in the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia and spent a while in the area with his friend Richard Tobias Greene, who jumped ship with him. His first book, 'Typee,' was based upon his experiences during this time.
Thereafter he returned to the United States in a roundabout fashion, along the way taking part in a mutiny in Tahiti for which he was briefly imprisoned.
After returning and telling of his experiences, he was encouraged by family and friends to write down all he had seen and done—this became 'Typee,' which became an immediate best-seller and set his literary career on track to become a household name.
- 1847-08-04 Author of Moby-Dick, American novelist Herman Melville (28) marries Elizabeth Shaw, daughter of Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
- 1851-11-14 "Moby-Dick" by Herman Melville first published by Harper and Brothers in the US
- 1857-04-01 Herman Melville publishes The Confidence-Man
- "It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation."