Arguably one of America's greatest authors, Melville was born August 1 1819
in New York City
as one of seven children. He attended several different schools, and his increasingly debt
-ridden family was crippled even more financially with the death of his father
. Melville began working as a teacher
from 1837-1840. In 1841
, desiring adventure
, he set off on a whaling ship, and continued on to Tahiti
in 1842. He spent a short period in the Navy
Melville's first novel, Typee, a somewhat exaggerated account of his time in Polynesia, was published in 1846. It cemented his popularity for some time. Four more books based on those years were published soon after: Omoo, Mardi, Redburn and White-Jacket.
Melville met Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850. Moby Dick was published in 1851 and The Confidence Man was published in 1857. He began extensive travel and lecture appointments beginning in 1857. His son Malcolm committed suicide in 1867. Melville died on September 28, 1891.