Herman Melville (1819 – 1891)
Okay, it’s true: Herman Melville was a literary celebrity in his day — but not for the book you think. Melville’s first three books were very popular at the time of their publication, especially his bestselling debut novel, Typee, but after a few brief years of fame, he fell out of favor and was almost completely forgotten by the time of his death in 1891. “Though I wrote the Gospels in this century,” Herman Melville moaned in 1851, just after the publication of Moby-Dick, “I should die in the gutter.” Probably an overstatement, but we understand how he felt — after all, by 1876, all of his books were out of print. It wasn’t until the 1920s, in the so-called “Melville Revival” that critics began to reassess (and champion) the author’s work, and now Moby-Dick is considered by just about everyone to be an essential literary masterpiece.