Our man, Herman Melville, died on this day in 1891, just over 72 years old.
According to his wife, he died "after two years of failing health, induced partly by severe attacks of erysipelas terminating finally in enlargement of the heart." [Parker, vol. 2, p.920] A Dr. Warner signed the death certificate stating that Herman died on the 28th at 12:30 A.M. at his home at 104 East 26th St. in New York City. His funeral was held at the family home on September 30.
His obituary appeared on September 29 in the New York Times—a single paragraph, stating that "He was the author of 'Typee,' 'Omoo,' 'Mobie Dick,' [sic] and other sea-faring tales written in earlier years." (View the original obit here; Melville's notice is about four paragraphs from the end.)
Notices in other newspapers mentioned that he had "fallen into literary decline ... if the truth were known, even his own generation has long thought him dead..."; called Typee his best book; and described him as a "formerly well-known author." [Parker]
The Times famously printed an article memorializing "Hiram Melville" or "Harry Melville" (Oct. 6, 1891), the headline obliterated from the printing plate in an effort to correct it.
Aside from such faint praise, the Springfield Republican declared that "...it is probable that no work of imagination more powerful and often poetic has been written by an American than Melville's 'Moby Dick; or the Whale'..."
Herman Melville was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, final resting place of such notables as Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, and F.W. Woolworth. (Road trip, Lemuel!)