- 01 August 1819
- New York City
- 28 September 1891
- New York City
- Short story writer | Teacher | Poet
- Ahab, Captain (Fictitious character)
- Spouse: Elizabeth Knapp Shaw (1822–1906) (m. 1847) -- Children: Malcolm (1849–1867) Stanwix (1851–1886) Elizabeth (1853–1908) Frances (1855–1938)
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Herman Melville (born Melvill;[a] 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 Melville revival 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.