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Sep 28

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September 28, 1891: Herman Melville Dies

Herman MelvilleOn this day in 1891, Herman Melville died of cardiac issues at his home in New York City. The author was 72 years old and his greatest work still had not been discovered.

Melville published “Moby Dick” when he was 32 years old, but his prominence in the literary scene quickly waned. By the time he passed away, Melville was almost completely forgotten.

Fortunately, biographer Raymond Weaver decided to chronicle Melville’s life in the early 1920s and was given his papers by his granddaughter. In them, he found Melville’s unpublished novella, “Billy Budd.” Weaver published it and critical claim poured in launching a Melville revival. “Billy Budd” was turned into a Broadway play and a 1962 movie starring Terence Stamp.

Melville’s life shows that if we may not always receive the immediate appreciation we think we deserve, we still may. It just won’t be at a time of our choosing.

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