Herman Melville

Illustrated by Rockwell Kent

A new Folio collector’s edition of Herman Melville’s evergreen classic, Moby-Dick, featuring Rockwell Kent’s original illustrations and bound in rich cloth.


‘I think that the book which I put down with the unqualified thought “I wish I had written that” is Moby-Dick.’

  1. William Faulkner

Following the huge success of our 2009 limited edition, Folio has reproduced Moby-Dick in a new collector’s edition. Featuring Rockwell Kent’s illustrations and bound in rich cloth, this is a fine presentation of what is regarded by many as the greatest American novel.

Herman Melville’s tale of the hunt for the white whale, Moby-Dick, is a sublime work of the imagination, an American Odyssey. It is at once an adventure story of the high seas, and an exploration of the uncharted regions of the soul.

Production Details

Bound in metallic buckram blocked with a design based on artwork by the artist

Set in Fournier

768 pages

280 integrated black & white illustrations

Coloured page tops

Blocked cloth slipcase

Ribbon marker

9½˝ x 6¾˝

White whale, holy grail

Moby-Dick’s narrator, Ishmael, is a drifter and former merchant seaman, who departs from Nantucket on a perilous whaling mission to the South Seas. At the helm of his ship, the Pequod, is Captain Ahab, whose soul is bent on hunting and killing the great white whale that cost him his leg in an earlier encounter. As they voyage south, Ahab’s obsession takes his crew deeper into the abyss in desperate pursuit of the great demon of the seas.

‘In that wild, beautiful romance, Melville seems to have spoken the very secret of the Sea.’

  1. John Masefield

Ahab’s single-minded pursuit of the whale is both terrifying and awe-inspiring, as he perverts his commercial venture into one of vengeance on a seemingly invincible foe, his crew becoming human casualties of a madman’s quest.

With its elemental simplicity of plot, its pathos and perfectly realised action scenes, Moby-Dick is not only a breathtaking adventure but also a vivid meditation on Melville’s America, taking in wider themes of nature, religion, society, war, history and civilisation.

‘Death and devils! men, it is Moby Dick ye have seen – Moby Dick – Moby Dick!’

Our edition is faithful to Melville’s text, and retains the spelling and punctuation of the original. Melville spent many years at sea and his perfectly attuned ear enabled him to reproduce the colloquial language of his characters in a wonderfully exhilarating and idiosyncratic style. The poetry of his language echoes the humour of Dickens, the richness of Shakespeare and the cadences of the Bible.  

Rockwell Kent’s celebrated illustrations from the 1930 edition are a true match for Melville’s vivid descriptive power. With their beauty, simplicity and vigour, they will forever be associated with Melville’s epic sea story.

About Herman Melville

Herman Melville was born in New York City to wealthy parents of New English and Dutch origin. When his father died a bankrupt, Melville left school, aged 12, to work as a bank clerk. He attended night school and became a teacher before signing on as a merchant seaman. In 1841, he boarded the whaling ship Acushnet. After a year and a half, Melville jumped ship and spent a month among a tribe in the Marquesas Islands, before making his way home via Hawaii and Peru. In New York, he published several novels, to instant success. His meeting with Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850, while he was writing Moby-Dick, was a pivotal moment and filled him with inspiration. Moby-Dick’s reception was mixed, and his following novel Pierre was a failure. Melville’s reputation faded, and his later years were shadowed by his son’s suicide and his own ill-health. He worked as an inspector in the New York Customs House for nearly 20 years until his death in 1891.


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