Herman had often walked these streets, eyeing the forest of tall ships, their blackened strakes handsomely curved, masts like crosses, empty of sails . . . 1841. A young Herman Melville is yet to write Moby Dick. He sets out on a voyage aboard a whaling ship. What happens on that trip will give him enough material for a lifetime of writing. But what of the dark things Melville encounters on his journey, and the illicit relationships he embarks upon that are to torment him once he returns home to his wife Lizzie? All is revealed as Jay Parini lifts the lid on one of the greatest writers of the nineteenth century . . .