Heart of Darkness – the 1899 novella about a merchant boat in the Congo – is an exploration of colonialism and racism.
The author, Joseph Conrad (1857–1924) was born in Ukraine, to Polish parents who had been sent into exile. He became a British subject in 1886, only learning to speak English fluently in his twenties. The story and characters of Heart of Darkness were drawn from the diaries of his own experiences working in the merchant navy, including a brief and unsuccessful expedition to the Congo in 1890.
The novella appeared in various versions, the earliest being a three-part series that year in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, a literary monthly that ran from 1817 to 1980. The first part was published in February 1899 to celebrate the magazine’s thousandth issue; shown here is the concluding part, published in April. It was not the lead item, but appeared second, between lengthy essays on ‘The Thames as a Game-Fish River’ and ‘Christian Quackery’.