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On this day in 1819, American novelist Herman Melville was born in New York, New York

August 1, 2023

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An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 1 of August, repeating indefinitely

On this day in 1819, American novelist Herman Melville was born in New York, New York. He’s best-known for his feat of American literature, Moby-Dick.

Melville had a colorful life. As a child, he experienced both lavish wealth and money troubles – though part of a prominent family, his merchant father went into bankruptcy, dying shortly after when Melville was 12. During these leaner times, he held several jobs, though still finding time to pursue his love of reading. As a young man, he embarked on adventures at sea, in turn acting as a cabin boy, sailor, mutineer, harpooner, and navy man.

Did you know? Melville’s earlier novels were much more successful than Moby-Dick. Sadly for the author, his greatest-known work was not lauded until years after his death, and by all accounts was a commercial failure when first published.

The book, which wrestles with themes of American identity and the human condition, was widely recognized as a great work in the 20th century.

Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne were neighbors and friends for a time – Melville even dedicated Moby-Dick to Hawthorne, “in Admiration for his Genius.”

Herman Melville, Joseph Oriel Eaton, 1870

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August 1, 2023
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