Teodor Józef Konrad Korzeniowski
was born in 1857 in Eastern Podolia, which was then part of the Russian Empire, while Western Podolia belonged to Austria-Hungary. Podolia was a historic region of Poland, and in the nineteenth century it was still owned by Polish gentry, but most inhabitants were Ukrainian. It later became part of the Soviet Union and is now wholly within the independent country of the Ukraine.
Józef's father, Count Apollo Nałęcz Korzeniowski
, was an impoverished member of an aristocratic Polish family which had lost its land and fallen on hard times. Count Apollo was a writer, translator and poet who in 1863 was exiled to Vologda, in Russia, for supporting a Polish nationalist uprising against the Russians, then, after two years, to Chernikhov in the Ukraine. His wife and young son went into exile with him. Józef's mother, Evelina Bobrowska
, died of tuberculosis in 1865, and his father died three years later, leaving Józef an orphan at the age of eleven. He was brought up by his mother's brother Tadeusz Bobrowski
(a lawyer) in Krakow, Poland, and was given a good education there.
At the age of seventeen, partly to avoid conscription into the Russian army, Józef left Poland, and went to a maritime school in Marseilles, after which he went to sea in French and English ships. He served as a steward and able seaman, and later as an officer, in the British Merchant Navy, surviving shipwreck, pirates, gun-running and other adventures.
In 1886, Józef was naturalised as a British subject, anglicizing his name to Joseph Conrad
. Then, in 1889, after fifteen years at sea, and a year after getting his first command (a British merchant ship called the Otago) he settled in London and became a writer. His early books were about the sea. Most of his work was written in English - which was Conrad's third language, after Polish and French, and he is now looked on as an important writer.
Conrad's books are -
An Outcast of the Islands
The Nigger of the 'Narcissus'
(1901) (with Ford Madox Ford)
Heart of Darkness
Typhoon and Other Stories
(1903) (with Ford Madox Ford)
The Secret Agent
Under Western Eyes
A Personal Record
The Shadow Line
The Arrow of Gold
The Nature of a Crime
(1923) (with Ford Madox Ford)
In 1896, Conrad married Jessie George
, and they had two sons, Alfred Borys
(1898-1978) and John Alexander
(born 1906). In 1923, Conrad was offered a British knighthood, but declined it. He died of a heart attack in 1924 and was buried in Canterbury cathedral.
for a fuller online biography.