Joseph Conrad, born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowki in 1857, is widely
considered one of the masters of English prose. English was his third
language (after Polish and German), yet he was able to write such monumental
works as "Lord Jim" (1900) and "Heart of Darkness" (1902) in it.
The son of a Polish noble, Conrad was orphaned at age 12. At 16, he
convinced his uncle to let him pursue his desire for a life at sea and moved
to Marseilles, where he served with French merchant ships. In 1878, he
landed a job with a British vessel and arrived in England for the first
time. Eight years later, he became a naturalized British citizen. He
continued working with the British merchant navy until 1889, when he
traveled to the Congo to become captain of a river steamboat.
Conrad's time at sea greatly influenced his writing style, and his stay in
the Congo formed the basis for "Heart of Darkness," an exploration of the evil
in man. It was there he entered into a psychological, spiritual and physical
shock from which he never fully recovered. For the rest of his life, he was
wracked by recurrent fever and gout.
In 1894, Conrad gave up a life at sea to pursue writing full time. He
published his first work, "Almayer's Folly," in 1895, the same year he married
Jessie George, with whom he would later have two sons. Conrad lived poor and
in failing health for many years before his work received recognition.
During that period, he produced a variety of novels, including "An Outcast in
the Islands" (1896), "Nostromo" (1904), "The Secret Agent" (1907) and "Under
Western Eyes" (1911).
Joseph Conrad died in 1924 at Bishopsbourne, near Canterbury.
Conrad on the Web
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