Essex was an American whaler from Nantucket, Massachusetts, launched in 1799. While under the command of Captain George Pollard, Jr., in 1820 a sperm whale attacked and sank her. First mate Owen Chase and cabin boy Thomas Nickerson wrote accounts of their ordeal; these accounts inspired Herman Melville to write his famous 1851 novel Moby-Dick.
Herman Melville (1819–1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet from the American Renaissance period. Best known for his sea adventure Typee (1846) and his whaling novel Moby-Dick (1851). Melville's writing draws on his experience at sea as a common sailor, exploration of literature and philosophy, and engagement in the contradictions of American society in a period of rapid change.