Written by Marc Foucher
known as Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski was born on December 3, 1857 to Apollo
Korzeniowski and Ewa Bobrowska in Berdyczow, located in a Ukrainian province of
Poland. He was born
Polish but he would become famous for his novels and short stories in English.
His father, Apollo Korzeniowski, worked as a translator of English and French
literature, so Joseph was exposed to literature early in his life.
a boy, he was confronted with harsh living conditions. When he was three, his
father was arrested and imprisoned in Warsaw for his supposed political
activities, and was exiled to Siberia in 1961.
At the age of eight, Conrad lost his mother to tuberculosis. His father passed
away four years later, when Conrad was only twelve, also a victim of his
mother’s illness. We can see the link between Conrad’s childhood as an
orphan and his works, when he describes life as being a solitary ordeal and
compares it to a nightmare (Knowles 6).
Having no more family
to take care of him, he was placed in his maternal uncle’s custody. Tadeusz
Bobrowski took him in and gave him the opportunity to go to school in Cracow and
Switzerland. He attended school for six years but what he really wanted to do
was to go to the sea. At the age of seventeen he left Poland for Marseille where
he started his career as a seaman. He joined the French merchant marine as an
apprentice in the mid-1870s. As the years floated by Joseph began to gamble and
got involved in arms smuggling for the Carlist cause in Spain. In 1878, after
being wounded in a fight or of an attempted suicide he joined the British
merchant navy, and quickly made his way up the ladder. By 1886 he was given
British citizenship, had
earned his Master Mariner's certificate and
was commander of his own ship, the Otago.
It was at this time that he officially changed his name to Joseph Conrad.
The next part of
Conrad’s life was spent sailing all over the world. He visited Australia,
various islands in the Indian Ocean, Borneo, the Malay states, South America,
and the South Pacific Island. These experiences gave him a lot of material for
his future novels. However, he had always wanted to go to Africa. In 1889, he
traveled to the Congo and became a captain of a Congo River steamboat. Later
that year he sailed up the Congo River, where he got the inspiration for his
novel “Heart of Darkness”.
In 1894, at the age of 36, he
stopped riding boats, and started writing books. He first arrived in England at
the port of Lowestoft, Suffolk, and lived later in London and near Canterbury,
Most of his time was spent writing and he rarely left his new home.
Conrad got married in 1895 to Jessie George and had two sons with her. He lived
in poor conditions, his health was not good and his temperament often got him in
trouble. Finally, in 1910 he started to get recognized for his work and his
finances improved. In April 1924 he refused an offer of knighthood from Prime
Minister Ramsay MacDonald. Joseph Conrad died at the age of 67 on August 3rd,
1924, of a heart attack.
Short stories :
Other works :
J.H. (2004). Fiction 100: an anthology
of short fiction. (10e éd). New Jersey: les édition Pearson.