Most complete collection of the works of Herman Melville, American novelist and author of "Moby Dick" has been presented to the University by the author's grand-daughter, Mrs. Eleanor Melville Metcalf, of Cambridge, it was disclosed yesterday.
Twenty-three original manuscripts by Melville including journals of various sea voyagers, stories, and poems, are features of the valuable collection. Other highlights of the gift are over 400 letters written to the author by members of his family and literary associates, and Melville family journals.
Many Original Manuscripts
The author lived from 1819 to 1891, and is noted for his adventurous novels of the sea and South Sea Island life. His novels were based on the experiences of his youth which included capture by cannibals and subsequent rescue, and also service on a whaler.
"White Jacket," Melville's famous novel of life on a man-o-war is among the original manuscripts. "Agatha's Story," which he wrote in a letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of his closest friends, is another.
Other manuscripts include: "Timoleon," John Marr and Other Sailors," "Billy Budd," "Jack Gentian," "The River," "Rammon the Enviable Isles," and "The Admiral of the White."
On Display in Widener
This vast collection, which will be on exhibit in Widener Library next week, includes several of Melville's travel journals, among which are the account of a voyage from New York to London in 1849, a trip "up the Straits" in 1856, and a voyage on board the ship 'Meteor" in 1860.
"The preservation of this unique collection is chiefly due to her interest and care," declared Walter B. Briggs, associate librarian of the College, in speaking of Mrs. Metcalfe's gift.
"Coming directly from the family, this most generous gift comprises perhaps the most complete existing collection of its kind relating to Melville, with much of it as yet unpublished.