Hershel Parker is the H. Fletcher Brown Professor Emeritus at the University of Delaware. He is co-editor with Harrison Hayford of the landmark Norton Critical Edition of Moby-Dick (1967 and 2001) and Associate General Editor of The Writings of Herman Melville.
Volume 1 of Parker's two-volume biography, Herman Melville: A Biography, Vol. 1,1819-1851, Vol.2, 1851-1891, was one of two finalists for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in Biography. Each volume of the biography won the highest award from the Association of American Publishers, the first volume in the category of “Literature and Language” (1997) and the second volume in a new category of “Biography and Autobiography” (2003).
On September 22, 2008 at the inaugural public program of the CUNY Leon Levy Center for Biography, "An Eloquent Beginning," one of the presenters, John T. Matteson, read aloud the first paragraph of Herman Melville: A Biography, 1819-1851, as an example of how “the opening paragraph should reflect the character of the subject, the way the music of a great aria fits the mood of the words being sung.”
Parker is an advocate of traditional methods of literary research, which emphasize access to original materials, encourage deliberate study of chronology, and examine the relationship between a literary work and the creative genius of its author.
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“Guns arent lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.”
—Dorothy Parker (18931967)