Herman Melville was 31 years old when he started writing The Whale in New York during February 1850. He left the sea in 1844 to become a writer and had drawn on his experience as a seaman in many of his successful works. By 1851 the only part of his years at sea which he had not drawn on for fictional purposes was his experience on a whaling ship Acushnet in 1841-2. It is almost as if he had intuited that this area of his life would yield the richest returns only when his imagination was ready to appropriate all its possibilities and explore them to their further riches. The most important event during the seventeen months in which Melville was writing his novel was his meeting with Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850. This meeting had a profound effect on Melville. Moby Dick is dedicated to Hawthorne. Melville died, in obscurity, in 1891.