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Library Patron

Library Patron

JÓZEF TEODOR KONRAD KORZENIOWSKI (aka JOSEPH CONRAD)

Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski was born in 1857 in Berdichev, Ukraine in the family of Polish nobility. 
He was the only son of Apollo Nałęcz-Korzeniowski and Ewelina of the Bobrowski family.

The writer's father – a connoisseur of literature, translator of Shakespeare – was fully devoted to the fight for freedom of Poland. For anty tsar activities he was exiled deep into Russia together with his wife and son. This way the careless childhood of the boy was interrupted.  He lost his parents very soon; Joseph's mother died in 1865, followed by his father – four years later. The Bobrowski Family – in particular, Tadeusz Bobrowski, Joseph’s uncle – took care of the orphaned boy.

In 1874 the future writer left Poland  to make his dreams of distant journeys come true. At first he gained his sailing experience in French fleet, and then in the British Trade Navy. After years of work at sea he obtained the title of a master of navigation in 1886. The same year he received British citizenship.

Joseph Conrad held several trips to Indonesia (Malay Archipelago), India, Australia. The other extremely important experience was an expedition to Africa – to Belgian Congo interrupted by the disease and the conflict with his superiors.

In 1895 he made his debut as a writer, when publishing a novel: Almayer's Folly. One year later he married Jessie Georg, a daughter of a London bookseller, and settled down in the English province. Soon his other novels were published: An Outcast of the Islands, The Nigger of the 'Narcissus’, and in 1900 – Lord Jim.  They gained the recognition of critics and the increasing number of readers. The critics and fans of his literature particularly value: Victory, Heart of Darkness, The Rescue, Nostromo, The Rover.

In 1923 Joseph Conrad was invited by the US publisher of his works F.J. Doubleday to the USA, where he had already had a group of regular and faithful readers. He visited New York and Boston – his journey was a great success.A year later he died suddenly of a heart attack in his house in Oswalds.

 Joseph Conrad wrote in English, but in personal contacts with Poles and in the correspondence with them he used Polish. He considered himself Polish and never formally changed his name. He maintained contact with Poland by regular correspondence with his uncle Tadeusz Bobrowski. He visited Poland three times.
He did not accept the title of nobility awarded to him on behalf of the King George V by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom J.R. MacDonald, recalling that as a Polish nobleman, he already possessed the title of nobility and instructed to place his coat of arms – Nałęcz, in the second edition of his novels. He fully and directly expressed his attitude towards the independence of Poland in his political sketches – Note on the Polish Question  and The Crime of Partition, proving that he perfectly knew the situation of Poland in the international arena and showing his emotional attachment to Poland.
Joseph Conrad is one of the outstanding writers of the 20th century. Undertaking psychological themes in an original way earned him a permanent place in the world literature. In his works Conrad carried out a comprehensive analysis of the conflict which continually lasts between the human nature and the moral rules and principles established by people.

Conrad and Gdansk

Biographers have not noted down any links of Conrad and Gdansk – apart from the political  proposal expressed in The Note on the Polish Question of 1916,  in which he had suggested that resurrected Poland should have had the access to the sea, with the inclusion of Gdansk as a free port.  
There are many reasons that contributed to the fact that Gdansk Pomerania became Conrad's Pomerania, as aptly put by Gdansk Conrad connoisseur, Paweł Dzianisz.
The most important points of Gdansk landscape of Conrad which are worth mentioning, include:

  • From 1968 the Polish Conrad Club operated in Gdansk at the Society of  Maritime Museum Friends’. In 1994 the Club was transformed to the Polish Conrad Association.
  • The Central Maritime Museum possesses numerous and interesting Conrad's exhibits, including books, models of Conrad's vessels, works of art.
  • Already non-existent Gdansk Maritime Publishing House largely contributed to publishing Polish and foreign Conrad's connoisseurs.
  • The literary and sailing awards were connected with the name of Conrad; currently these are associated only with sailing awards.
  • In 1976 a large monument of Joseph Conrad was unveiled in Gdynia.
  • The yacht shipyard in Gdansk-Stogi also had the name of Joseph Conrad, and currently two private companies have his name as well: Conrad-Model and Conrad-Passed.
  • On 3 June 2005 the name of Joseph Conrad-Korzeniowski was adopted by the 2nd General Education Secondary School in Rumia.
  • Since 1994 the Conrad Centre has operated at WiMBP which has conducted diversified educational activities aimed at deepening the knowledge about the life and output of the writer.