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Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad

Famous for writing nautical novels, Joseph Conrad, the Polish born English novelist is considered to be an asset to English literature. Although some of his works fall in the romanticism category of literature, he is widely known to be a modernist. His intense writing style and accounts of actual and fictional adventures of dangerous, exotic places earned him the reputation of being a remarkable storyteller.

Joseph Conrad was born on December 3, 1857 in Berdichev, Ukraine. His father, Apollo Korzeniowski was an aristocrat, a poet and a literature lover. As a child, Joseph read Polish and French versions of English novels. Joseph was sent to live with his uncle, Tadeusz Bobrowski in Switzerland when both his parents had died by 1869 from tuberculosis. Bobrowski left Conrad a huge sum of £1,600 when he died in 1894. Conrad gained his initial education in Kraków and later went out to the sea by joining the French merchant marine as an apprentice in the 1870s making three memorable voyages to West Indies during 1875 and 1878. He remained in the British Merchant Navy for 16 years earning the rank of first mate and eventually commanding his own ship after obtaining the master mariner’s certificate in 1886. He was also given a British nationality in the same year.

Before settling down in Kent Count, England to pursue his literary career, Conrad had sailed to many places around the world including various ports of Indian Ocean, South America, Australia, Borneo, Gulf of Siam, South Pacific Island and the Malay States. His trip to Africa through the Congo River became and inspiration and a rich source of information for his famed novel, Heart of Darkness. The East Indies in particular attracted Conrad greatly, becoming the backdrop for many of his works.

His first novel, Almayer’s Folly was published in 1895 followed by a number of noted works for instance An Outcast of the Islands (1896), The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ (1897), Tales of Unrest (1898), Lord Jim (1900), collaborations with Ford Madox Ford The Inheritors (1901) and Romance (1903), Youth (1902), The End of the Tether (1902), Typhoon (1903), Nostromo (1904), The Mirror of the Sea (1906, semi-autobiographical), The Secret Agent (1907), A Set of Six (1908), and Under Western Eyes (1911).

Chance (1914) proved to be a turning point for Conrad before which he was faced with financial difficulties despite receiving a pension and being a published author. He moved to his house named Oswalds in Bishopsbourne, Canterbury. Conrad was offered Knighthood in 1924 and honorary degrees from five universities, both of which he declined. Continuing to write, Conrad published several more books including The Arrow of Gold (1914), Victory (1915), The Shadow-Line (1917), The Rescue (1920), and The Rover (1923). Many of Conrad’s books were adapted to screen of which some distinguished ones are The Sabotage (1936) based on The Secret Agent, Lord Jim (1964) and Apocalypse Now (1979) based on Heart of Darkness

Conrad married an English woman, Jessie Gorge in 1896 and had two sons, Borys and John. A heart attack became the reason for Joseph Conrad’s death on August 3, 1924. He rests beside his wife in the Westgate Court Avenue public cemetery in Canterbury, England.

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