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Melville, Herman

Country/Region:
USA
Born:
August 1, 1819
Dead:
September 28, 1891
Genres:
Miscellaneous prose
Painting by Joseph Oriel Eaton
American author born in New York. Melville came from a wealthy family, but when his merchant father went bankrupt, he was forced to start to earn a living for himself. While attending school in Albany between 1830 and 1835, he worked extra in an office. He then went to engineering college, and in 1839, he signed aboard a merchant ship bound for England as a "boy". In 1841, he sailed to the Pacific aboard the whaler Acushnet. After spending several years at sea he jumped ship together with a friend near the Marquesas Islands. There they lived for a while among the Typees, possibly a cannibal tribe, before Melville returned on America on a US frigate. These experiences were later woven into his stories. Melville’s writing career spanned only twenty years. He stopped writing in 1866 in order to work as a customs inspector in New York harbour, by which time he was virtually forgotten.

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