Behind the name of this famous writer is a life of adventure.
Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
His parents were Polish land gentry named Apollo Korzeniowski and Ewa Bobrowska in 1857. The Korzeniowski family settled in the area of what became known as Ukraine in the 17th century. Because Apollo was fiercely against Russian rule, he was arrested by Russian authorities for organizing a resistance group that would become the underground National Government of 1863. The couple were sentenced to exile, with his mother dying from tuberculosis.
Conrad would be educated by his uncle, then he traveled to southern France in order to pursue a maritime career. He would eventually serve a British fleet. The themes of the sea would feature in his work under his pen name.
He took two of his first names and made it a pen name for writing his fiction. During the time he was interned in the British navy, he became a British citizen and would live in Britain for the rest of his life. He is known for writing works such as Heart of Darkness.
Eventually, it became his legal name, as it was passed down to his two children. This is definitely an interesting case, since he switched his identity from Polish nobleman to English writer. He was even criticized by Polish intellectuals, such as Eliza Orzeszkowska, for writing in the English language. However, he argued that he always paid “silent homage” to the Poles whenever it is appropriate. Indeed, the “silent homage” are reflected off the Polish themes throughout his works, for he was a man who lived in two worlds and his name reflected off that.
- Conrad, Borys. My Father Joseph Conrad by Borys Conrad – Review. The Guardian. 2012.
- Joseph Conrad: A Biographical Note. Joseph Conrad Centre of Poland.