|Conrad the writer|
His first work
In February 1894, a month after he left the sea for the last time, his uncle died leaving him an inheritance. Two months later he completed his first novel Almayer's Folly.
This was published in 1895 under the pen name Joseph Conrad. All his books were published under this name, although he always used his original name with his friends and in official life.
Conrad's style and themes
Growing up in a Polish literary family in the Russian Empire, Korzeniowski would have spoken Polish at home, Russian in his official dealings, and would have been taught French. However, he did not speak a word of English until he was 19. Despite this, he came to be regarded as the most stylish writer in the English language.
Korzeniowski was not a writer of sea stories. He was interested in ethics and human behaviour, and his novels reflect this interest, using ships and the sea as the background to the plot. His descriptions of the sea, ports and ships are superb, being accurate and highly sensitive.
London in Conrad's work
Korzeniowski referred to London and the Thames many times in his work. A passage in Chance (1913) describes the Marine Board examinations conducted on Tower Hill. Several chapters in The Mirror of the Sea (1906), a novel dealing mainly with his experiences as a smuggler, describe the river and the port in prose never matched by any other writer.
The following sections include the account of the examinations from Chance and the lengthier descriptions of the Thames and the docks from The Mirror of the Sea.
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