On this day in 1819, Herman Melville was born in New York City. The American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd. He was the first writer to have his works collected and published by the Library of America. His first three books gained much contemporary attention (the first, Typee, becoming a bestseller), but after a fast-blooming literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined precipitously in the mid-1850s and never recovered during his lifetime.
When Melville died in 1891, he was almost completely forgotten. Not until the “Melville Revival” in the early 20th century did his work win the recognition it deserved, especially Moby-Dick which was hailed as one of the literary masterpieces of both American and world literature.