Billy Budd, Sailor is a novel by Herman Melville that the author was working on at the time of his death in 1891 and that was first published in 1924. Based in part on events Melville himself experienced at sea as a young man, Billy Budd also incorporates a 1842 incident involving Melville’s first cousin, who played a role—similar to Captain Vere in the novel—as an arbitrator in a controversy involving the trial and execution of two midshipmen on board the U.S.S. Somers.


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See a complete list of the characters in Billy Budd, Sailor and in-depth analyses of Billy Budd, Claggart, and Captain Vere.

Literary Devices

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Quick Quizzes

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Deeper Study

Go further in your study of Billy Budd, Sailor by reading background information about Herman Melville, his novel, and differing versions of its text, as well as mini essays on key topics.


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