Sources and Interpretations

Primary Texts

  • Billy Budd, Foretopman: Text edited by Raymond Weaver, published by Constable in 1924 and reissued by Livewright in 1928.
  • Billy Budd, Sailor: Text edited by F. Barron Freeman, published by the Harvard University Press in 1948.
  • Billy Budd, Sailor: Text edited by Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr., published by the University of Chicago Press in 1962.


This biographical sketch is an adaptation from Encyclopedia Britannica On-Line (© 1994-2000 Encyclopędia Britannica, Inc.), Robertson-Lorant's Melville : A Biography (New York: Clarkson Potter, 1996), The World Book Encyclopedia, 1999 (World Book, Inc.), and Charles Feidelson's introduction to Moby Dick (New York: Macmillan, 1964).


In preparing the short publishing histories of Melville's works, the following were particularly helpful:
  • G. Thomas Tanselle's "Chronology," and Tanselle's and Harrison Hayford's "Notes on the Texts", in the Library of America Series of Melville's works;
  • Watson G. Branch's "Introduction" to Melville: The Critical Heritage (which he also edited). Boston: Routledge & Keegan Paul, 1974.


The primary source for the Nineteenth-Century Melville criticism and obituary notices selected throughout this Site was Watson G. Branch's invaluable Melville: The Critical Heritage (Boston: Routledge & Keegan Paul, 1974). Supplementary excerpts were found in Hershel Parker's The Recognition of Herman Melville (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1967).


Unless otherwise noted, all definitions in the glossary were adapted from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996).

Nautical Terminology

The definitions in the glossary of nautical terms are adapted primarily from Dean King's companion to the novels of Patrick O'Brian, A Sea of Words (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995, 1997). In addition, the 1881 edition of A Naval Encyclopedia (Philadelphia: L.R. Hamersly & Co.) as well as Uden and Cooper's A Dictionary of British Ships and Seaman (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1980) both proved quite helpful.


Most of the illustrations are adapted from sources available either as hard copies or on the web. By holding the cursor over each image, a citation is available. More specifically, for the pictures of ships I drew largely from the wonderful collection of marine paintings and drawings in the Peabody-Essex Museum. All the images of Melville and his family were adapted from the prints used by Jay Leyda in his collection of Melville's letters and notes, The Melville Log (New York: HBJ, 1951). Many of those pictures came from the Berkshire Athenaeum, the public library in Pittsfield, MA, and a central repository for images Melville.


The explanations for the historical allusions were adapted primarily from the 1999 World Book (World Book, Inc.) as well as from the Encyclopędia Britannica Online (© 1994-2000 Encyclopędia Britannica, Inc.). All of the biblical text was drawn directly from the King James Version of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1972). Additional allusions drew from D.L. Jeffrey's wonderfully helpful Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature (New York: Eerdsman, 1992). Finally, Kershaw's translation of Dictionary of Classical Mythology (New York: Penguin, 1990) helped clarify the bulk of the mythological references with Edith Hamilton's classic, Mythology (New York: Mentor, 1969) filling in the gaps.


For a comprehensive list of all works consulted see the formal bibliography.

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