|Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzenioski, son of Polish nationalists who died in exile for their political activities, was raised by relatives in various parts of Eastern Europe. He went to sea at 16, and spent 20 years at sea, working first on French merchant ships in the West Indies, then on English ships, where he learned the language and traveled to Latin America and Africa. He drew on these experiences for much of his fiction; in 1890 he was the commander of a ship that traveled up the Congo River, the inspiration for HEART OF DARKNESS. He began writing in 1892, on a voyage from England to Australia, and in 1895 he left the British merchant service to become a full-time writer. He settled in London and married an Englishwoman. Although English was not his native language, he is renowned for the subtlety and descriptiveness of his prose--despite the fact that he spoke the language all his life with a heavy accent. His model for the writing of fiction was Henry James, whom he addressed as "cher ma?tre." Conrad died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 67. His epitaph, taken from Spenser's THE FAERIE QUEENE, reads: "Sleepe after toyle, port after stormie seas, /Ease after warre, death after life, does greatly please."