The American novelist and short story writer, was born in New York City, the third in a family of eight children of Dutch extraction. Coming from a well established family, his father Allan being an importer of French dry goods, spent much time away in Europe during Herman’s early years.
Moby-Dick, the inspiration over the years for naming many a pet goldfish, was stated in February 1850, taking Melville 18 months to complete - a full year longer than was first intentioned.
It relates the story of Captain Ahab, the skipper of a whaling vessel, and his quest for revenge against Moby-Dick, a giant sperm whale who had previously bit off Ahab’s leg at the knee, on an earlier voyage.
Like much of Melville’s work, it was not received well by critics receiving mixed reviews when published back in 1851, becoming more successful over time. Indeed, initially it was a commercial failure and was out of print by the time of the author’s death in 1891.
Its reputation as a great American novel was restored in the 20th century however when William Faulkner suggested he wished he had written it himself and D.H. Lawrence called it “one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world”.
Herman died in New York during September 1891 at the age of 72