Joseph Conrad is recognized as one of the 20th century's greatest English language novelists. He was born Jozef Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski on December 3, 1857, in the Polish Ukraine. His father, a writer and translator, was from Polish nobility, but political activity against Russian oppression led to his exile. Conrad was orphaned at a young age and subsequently raised by his uncle. At 17 he went to sea, an experience that shaped the bleak view of human nature which he expressed in his fiction. In such works as Lord Jim (1900), Youth (1902), and Nostromo (1904), Conrad depicts individuals thrust by circumstances beyond their control into moral and emotional dilemmas. His novel Heart of Darkness (1902), perhaps his best known and most influential work, narrates a literal journey to the center of the African jungle. This novel inspired the acclaimed motion picture Apocalypse Now. After the publication of his first novel, Almayer's Folly (1895), Conrad gave up the sea. He produced thirteen novels, two volumes of memoirs, and twenty-eight short stories. He died on August 3, 1924, in England.
Caryl Phillips, 1958 - Author Caryl Phillips was born in St. Kitts on March 13, 1958. He received a B.A. with honors from Oxford University and soon after began his writing career. He is now professor at Yale University and a visiting professor at Barnard College of Columbia University. Phillips has received many awards and fellowships and was appointed to the post of chief editor of the Faber and Faber Caribbean writers' series. Phillips' writing explores the challenges of dealing with such divisions as race and heritage, and investigates how they were created in the first place. In "Cambridge," he presents his characters confused identities and frequently compares their personal histories and questions the process of how stories become known as history. He draws links between groups, like the Jews during the Holocaust or Victorian women, to make analogies for the West Indian situation.