Where Melville Wrote Moby DickPosted: August 5, 2009
The Kenyon Review has a nice piece by Cody Walker on Arrowhead, the house where Herman Melville wrote parts of Moby Dick, among other things. Writers’ houses don’t often tell you much in themselves of course, but they certainly make a good place to start thinking about the writing:
I visited Arrowhead three times this summer. The view from the piazza is marvelous: a field of tall grass and wildflowers, a stand of maples and birches, and Mt. Greylock, surfacing in the distance. In an 1851 letter to Hawthorne, Melville wrote, “I have been ploughing & sowing & raising & printing & praying, and now begin to come out upon a less bristling time, and to enjoy the calm prospect of things from a fair piazza at the north of the old farmhouse here.” Melville lived at Arrowhead from 1850 to 1863; he wrote “Bartleby, the Scrivener” and the other Piazza Tales during his stay, along with Pierre, The Confidence Man, and the final draft of Moby-Dick — which he dedicated to Hawthorne, “in token of my admiration for his genius.” Facing financial difficulties, he sold half of the property in 1856, and then the remainder in 1863, to his brother Allan and moved his family back to New York, where he took a job as a customs inspector. The property stayed in his extended family until 1927; the Berkshire County Historical Society bought it from private owners in 1975.