Born in what was once a part of Poland on December 3, 1857 as Josef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, Joseph Conrad proved to be a truly a remarkable writer. He was a great English novelist but English was not his first language and he never really learned how to speak it well since it wasn't until his late twenties that he learned English at all. Conrad had an early obsession with going to sea and from 1874 to 1878 he was in service to the French Merchant Navy. In 1878, Conrad came of age and so, since he was "subject[ed] to military conscription-, he decided to sign on as a deckhand aboard a British freighter which would eventually take him to England for the first time. (Adler, 133). For sixteen years after, Conrad would serve in the British Merchant Navy. In 1886 he received his "master mariner's certificate while also becoming a British citizen- in the same year. (Conrad). In 1881, Conrad made his first trip to the Orients that would provide him with material for his stories and writings but in 1887, Conrad received a wound from a spar while on a trip to Java and spent time in a hospital in Singapore. Also, Conrad travelled around the islands of Southeast Asia on a steamship. .
As a boy, Conrad once put his finger on the center of a map of Africa and said, "When I grow up I shall go there."" (Adler, 134). In 1889, Conrad did just that. He obtained command of a steamboat on the Congo River after going to Brussels then spent four months in the Congo. That was the most "traumatic experience of his life- and was the inspiration for one of his greatest short stories, Heart of Darkness. (Conrad) In that same year, Conrad began to write his first novel, Almayer's Folly, which would not be published until 1894. It wasn't until 1895, at the age of thirty-eight that Conrad married twenty-two-year-old Jessie George who would be the mother of his two sons. For the following years after, Conrad gave up the sea life and continued to write.