Indiana State University Newsroom

English professor among Time’s “240 Reasons to Celebrate America”

July 7, 2016

Indiana State University Professor Michael Shelden has again made the headlines for his research and writing.

Shelden's newest book, "Melville in Love," is No. 149 among the Time magazine's "240 Reasons to Celebrate America Right Now," the cover story of the July 11-18 double issue.

"A big thrill for me is to be on the same list with Hank Aaron (#93), perhaps the most unlikely event I could have imagined," said Shelden, a professor of English at State. "I'm happy to be another reason to be proud of ISU."

"Melville" reveals through new research that the anarchic spirit animating from Herman Melville's canonical work "Moby Dick" was inspired by his great love affair with a shockingly unconventional married woman.

Melville, who wanted nothing less than to write a book worthy of an American Shakespeare, turned to Sarah Morewood - then regarded as a literary light in the Berkshires - for conversation about his ambitions, and her appreciation and expectations for his work tempted him to strive for greatness.

Emboldened by the thrill of courting Morewood in secret, the pleasure of falling in love, and the excitement of spending time with neighboring literary luminaries like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Melville found the courage to take the leap from light works of adventure to the hugely brilliant, utterly subversive "Moby Dick."

Published by HarperCollins, "Melville" went on sale June 7:

Shelden was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1991 and won the National Author Winner for the 2014 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award for his body of work, which includes numerous feature articles for leading newspapers and five biographies, including "Orwell: The Authorized Biography," "Mark Twain, Man in White: The Grand Adventure of His Final Years" and "Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill."