Moby-Dick and Nantucket

The island of Nantucket filled Herman Melville’s imagination. His time on the Nantucket whaleship Charles and Henry led to the magnificent portrayal of Nantucket early in Moby-Dick. But it was the sinking of the Nantucket whaleship Essex by a sperm whale that inspired the dark ending of the book. The sad tale of Captain George Pollard Jr., master of the Essex, stayed with Melville for years. When another sperm whale sank yet another whaleship, the Ann Alexander, Melville wondered if art is powerful enough to raise monsters from the deep.

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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