Joseph Conrad is considered one of the great English novelists. Among others, Conrad wrote "Heart of Darkness," which is a norm in American high school English classes. Despite his success, English was Conrad's third language. He was born in 1857 in Berdichev, Ukraine.
Conrad could not speak English fluently until he was in his twenties, and even then always with a Polish accent. He spoke English, Polish, and French. This is largely due to Conrad's adventurous lifestyle and world-traveling. At one point or another, he was a gunrunner, political conspirator, soldier and steamboat captain.
His time as the captain of a Congo steamboat inspired him to write "Heart of Darkness." The experience confirmed his views on human nature. Conrad seems to have experienced a startling insight into the nature of evil just like his protagonist Charles Marlow does.