#On This Day – Pockets

Thursday, August 1st, 2019


Herman Melville, American author of Moby-Dick, was born on August 1st, 1819. Melville was also a poet and wrote a number of short stories and novels, including a romantic account of his experiences of Polynesian life titled Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life, which was written in 1846 and was his first book. It was also the most popular of his works during his lifetime, based as it was on his own experiences on the island of Nuku Hiva in 1842. Now better known for Moby-Dick, the novel, Melville’s sixth, was not well received and took quite a bashing from the literary critics of the day, with one review, which appeared in the London Spectator in October 1851, suggesting that the book “repels the reader instead of attracting him”, and another, from the London Examiner in November 1851, stating that the book bore none of “the admirable qualities displayed in his earlier books”. However, the novel’s fortunes changed when in 1923 D. H. Lawrence, in Studies in Classic American Literature,  listed Melville amongst the most original American authors and noted that Moby-Dick was a work of the first order. Since that time Moby-Dick has undergone numerous adaptations and representations and has even featured in Bob Dylan’s 2017 Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

But, do you know what links Moby-Dick to women’s suffrage, the Old Bailey proceedings, James Dean & American pop culture?

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