Fun Facts Friday: Herman Melville

August 1, 2014

Herman Melville (1 August, 1819 – 28 September, 1891) was an American writer and poet, and writer of short stories. Melville is best known for his whaling novel Moby-Dick , published in 1851.

Fun Facts Friday: Herman MelvilleImage from Real adventure that inspired ‘Moby-Dick’ lures film directors

Books by Herman Melville*

  1. Major Thomas Melvill, Herman’s paternal grandfather was a veteran of the American Revolutionary War who “proudly showed his grandson the vial containing tea leaves brushed from his clothes after he had taken part in the Boston Tea Party, dressed in Indian garb and warpaint“.
  2. Herman joined a whaling ship voyage in 1841. However he left the ship and spent 3 weeks living among the Typee natives. The book Melville wrote about his experience became a bestseller.
  3. Melville married in 1847 to Elizabeth Shaw, daughter of Lemuel Shaw, the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The couple honeymooned in Canada.
  4. Originally Moby Dick was called The Whale, the title was changed close to the publication date. In fact, the first copies have The Whale as the title on the pages since it was too late to reprint the edition.
  5. Herman Melville never sold all of his initial 3,000 printings of Moby Dick during his lifetime.
  6. He made less than $600 dollars over the course of his life for Moby Dick , current first editions sell from $30,000 – $80,000.
  7. The coffee company Starbucks is named after the first mate of the Pequod, (the whaling ship from Moby Dick which was the company’s original name).
  8. Melville’s house, Arrrowhead, in Pittsfield MA is now a museum and a national historic landmark.
  9. Melville was the customs inspector for the City of New York for 19 years and was considered the only honest employee of the customs house.
  10. In 1856 Melville travelled to the Holy Land and wrote an 18,000 line poem called Clarel about his journey.

Books by Herman Melville*

Zohar – Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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Fun Facts Friday: Herman Melville
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Herman Melville (1 August, 1819 – 28 September, 1891) was an American writer and poet, and writer of short stories. Melville is best known for his whaling novel Moby-Dick , published in 1851.
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Man of la Book - A Bookish Blog
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3 Comments

  • Eileen Brower December 19, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    In the Catskill region of N.Y. state I recall a plaque to Melville at a cottage he rented while working on Moby Dick…..Is this a known fact?

  • Eileen Brower December 19, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    In the Catskill region of N.Y. state I recall a plaque to Melville at a cottage he rented while working on Moby Dick…..Is this a known fact?

  • Eileen Brower December 19, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Did Melville write some of Moby Dick in a Catskill rental cottage?

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