Joseph Conrad was a Polish-born novelist who spent most of his adult life in Britain. He is regarded as one of the greatest English novelists, which is even more notable because he did not learn to speak English well until he was in his 20s. Conrad is recognized as a master prose stylist. Some of his works have a strain of romanticism, but more importantly he is recognized as an important forerunner of Modernist literature. Writing during the apogee of the British Empire, Conrad drew upon his experiences in the British Merchant Navy. In 1894, at the age of 36, he left the sea to become an English author. His first novel, Almayer’s Folly, set on the east coast of Borneo and was published in 1895.
Conrad’s narrative style and anti-heroic characters have influenced many writers, including Ernest Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence, Graham Greene, William S. Burroughs, Joseph Heller, John Maxwell Coetzee as well as Jerzy Kosinski and inspired such films as Apocalypse Now (drawn from Heart of Darkness). Joseph Conrad died of a heart attack, and was interred in Canterbury Cemetery, Canterbury, England.