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Herman Melville Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Typee (1846) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Omoo (1847) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mardi (1849) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Redburn (1849) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
White-Jacket (1850) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Moby-Dick (1851) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Pierre (1852) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Israel Potter (1855) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Confidence-Man (1857) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Billy Budd (1924) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

The Piazza Tales (1856) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Apple-Tree Table (1922) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Herman Melville is an American author of fiction. Born August 1, 1918, in New York City and the third child of his parents, Melville today is most widely famous for writing the epic American classic Moby Dick. He first became known for his 1846 account Typee of Polynesian life and his experiences on it. He was a novelist, essayist, sailor, poet, and writer of short stories.

His father was a dry goods merchant that died in 1832 and left his family struggling to keep food on the table. Melville’s formal education ended quickly after that, and he worked as a schoolteacher for a brief time before departing on a merchant ship in 1839 as a sailor. The next year, he signed onto a whaling ship to go on his first-ever whaling voyage– but ended up getting off at the Marquesas Islands. After a few years of adventure, Melville came back to Boston in 1844.

Two years later, his first book came out and was titled Typee. It was nonfiction and in 1846 the account of his life among the Polynesians became so popular and such a bestseller that Melville was encouraged to write a followup. Omoo was released in 1847 and also did very well to an American public that was fascinated by foreign cultures and the lives of people living in exotic geographical locations.

His first fiction book ever published was Mardi and his second book was titled Redburn. They were both published in 1849 and unlike the first two releases from Melville were not authentic experiences but fictionalized narratives about life on the sea that have deeper philosophical meanings. Even though they did not reach bestselling status, they did not go unnoticed without attention from the public.

However, his popularity declined only years later. He came out with White Jacket in 1850, a novel that focused on the tough reality of life on a man-of-war ship before the 1851 release of his epic seafaring novel, Moby-Dick, which was largely considered a failure by the public, who did not give it a warm reception. it is safe to say that these early few books did not provide a windfall of income.

The majority of his fictional settings are inspired by his time at sea working as a sailor. Melville developed a baroque style with a creative vocabulary, sense of rhythm, impressive imagery, elaborate sentences, tortured and complex characters, and sense of American society that came through in his novels and his short stories. His novel Moby-Dick was dedicated to Nathaniel Hawthorne, with whom he struck up a friendship after moving to a farm in Pittsfield, Massachusetts with his family in 1850.

Melville’s popularity as an author of fiction continued to cool down with the release of his 1852 novel Pierre, a part satire of literary culture. If there was a chance to ever regain popularity and regain prominence once more, that would have been it. However, the content and overall reception of the book ensured that Melville would have a very hard battle ahead of him to regain the public’s favor. It is safe to say that his war novel Israel Potter in 1855 failed to help that goal materialize.

He published several short works during this time, including the now-famous “Bartleby, the Scrivener”. His works were also published in several collections that featured his poems or short stories. He briefly reunited with his friend Hawthorne in England in 1857 and once The Confidence-Man was released the same year took on poetry and moved to New York, working as a customs inspector. His book Battle-Pieces was released in 1866 and was a reflection on moral questions about the Civil War in poem form.

His oldest son passed away in 1867 in the home from a gunshot wound inflicted to himself. In 1886 his second son passed and Melville retired, ten years after the release of his epic, Clarel. He privately published two poetry volumes, with one unpublished, and also returned to writing stories about or set at sea. This included the critically acclaimed Billy Budd novella, which was unfinished by the time he passed but ended up being published in 1924.

By the time that he passed away on September 29, 1891, He died from cardiovascular disease. By the time of his passing, his works and his status had nearly faded from the limelight. Melville’s work had been out of fashion for nearly thirty years, and even though interest had begun to be stirred up again, it quieted down with his death.

In fact, it was the publication of Moby-Dick that caused a domino effect with the reading public, which caused him to fall out of favor because it was widely dismissed. However, the novel had a massive about-turn as the 20th century began, where its worth was realized and it has since become one of the literary masterpieces of American writing.

Things began to change as 1919 neared, the 100-year anniversary of his birth. This period of time would see the beginnings of a Melville Revival began and his work was discovered and examined with renewed interest. Since then his works have been considered classics and everything from his stories to his poems have come to be held in high regard.

Typee was Melville’s first published book and this autobiographical rendering of his time in Polynesia was a huge hit with audiences, immediately establishing Melville as a popular author. The writings examine the life of the Polynesian people, looking at their culture, ritual, relationships, belief of the universe, good and evil, and more. The success was so great and the demand for another installment was such that Melville penned a sequel, Omoo. Typee is still being published, so you can buy it online, in stores, or see if your local library has it available.

Omoo sees Melville returning to the South Seas. The title is derived from the Polynesian word for rover– someone who goes from island to island. The book tells of events that happen on a whaling vessel. The account is directly drawn from Melville’s time sailing the Pacific as a member of the crew. He gives an intimate account of life as a sailor during these times, his experiences, the people around him, and exotic locations. Pick up Omoo to experience Melville’s adventure for yourself!

Book Series In Order » Authors » Herman Melville