Herman Melville (1819–1891) was an American novelist, essayist, and poet. His early novels were popular during his lifetime, but his popularity waned as his career proceeded. His masterpiece, Moby-Dick, was considered a failure during his lifetime, but was “rediscovered” in the 20th century. Today, Melville is considered one of the foremost figures of American literature.
BYU’s Herman Melville Collection consists of primary and secondary works relating to the life and career of American author Herman Melville. The bulk of the Melville Collection was purchased from Tyrus Hillway, a Melville scholar formerly from the University of Colorado. BYU continues to actively collect works by and about Melville, including first and early editions of his novels, stories, and poetry, as well as published editions of his prose works and correspondence.
The Melville Collection contains an extensive array of secondary works about Melville, including biographies, criticism, and reference workson Melville and his writings. Topics of secondary literature (monographs and articles) include analysis of Melville’s travels, sources for his fiction, and his influence on other writers. The collection also houses a growing array of adaptations, responses, and interpretations of Melville’s life, characters, and works.