JOSEPH CONRAD (1857-1924) was one of the most remarkable figures in English literature. Born in Poland, and originally named Josef Teodor Konrad Walecz Korzeniowski, he went to sea at the age of seventeen and eventually joined the crew of an English vessel, becoming a British citizen in the process. He retired from the sea in 1894 and took up the pen, writing all his works in English, a language he had only learned as an adult. Despite this, he was a master stylist, both lush and precise. His outsider's eye gave him special insights into the moral dangers of the great age of European empires.
As he wrote in 1920, in his note for the book, "The six stories in this volume are the result of some three or four years of occasional work. The dates of their writing are far apart, their origins are various. None of them are connected directly with personal experiences. In all of them the facts are inherently true, by which I mean that they are not only possible but that they have actually happened."