Herman Melville Born in New York City, the son of New England
merchant. He worked at odd jobs (clerk, garmhand, teacher) before
sailing to the South Seas on the whaler Acushnet. He deserted his
ship, lived among cannibals, mutinied on an Australian boat, then
spent two years on an American boat returning to the U.S. He
successfully romanticized these adventures, publishing seven novels
in six years, including Moby Dick (1851), one of the masterworks of
American fiction. His popularity waned, and by the time he died he
was virtually forgotten. Billy Budd was his last great novel. As
his writing declined, Melville sailed again, around Cape Horn to
San Francisco on a clipper ship commanded by his brother.
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