Herman MelvilleHerman Melville (1819-1891) sailed as an ordinary seaman in the Pacific as a young man, turning these experiences into a series of romances that launched his literary career. By 1850 he was married, had acquired a farm near Pittsfield, Massachussetts, and was hard at work on his masterpiece Moby-Dick. Literary success soon faded, his complexity increasingly alienating readers. After a visit to the Holy Land in January 1857, he turned from writing prose fiction to poetry. In 1863, during the Civil War, he moved back to New York City, where from 1866-1885 he was a deputy inspector in the Custom House, and where, in 1891, he died.
Edward W. Said (1935–2003) was University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He was the author of more than twenty books, including Orientalism, which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Culture and Imperialism; and Out of Place: A Memoir