Billy Budd is a novella begun in November 1888 by American author Herman Melville, left unfinished at his death in 1891, and published in 1924. It was acclaimed by British critics as a masterpiece when published in London, and quickly took its place among the canon of significant works in the United States.
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. His first two books gained much attention, though they were not bestsellers, and his popularity declined precipitously only a few years later. By the time of his death he had been almost completely forgotten, but his longest novel, Moby-Dick — largely considered a failure during his lifetime, and most responsible for Melville's fall from favor with the reading public — was rediscovered in the 20th century as one of the chief literary masterpieces of both American and world literature.