You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

English Literature   >   Conrad: The Secret Agent

Conrad's Life

  • About
  • Transcript
  • Cite

Conrad: The Secret Agent

In this course, Professor Cedric Watts (University of Sussex) explores Joseph Conrad's 1907 novel, The Secret Agent. The course begins by thinking about Conrad's life – his upbringing in Poland, his early career as a merchant sailor, and his later work as a writer of novels. After that, we think about the development of the novel from a short story in Ridgway's Magazine to the publication of the full novel in 1907. In the following six modules, we think about some of the key influences on the novel: including historical events (such as the attempting bombing of Royal Observatory in Greenwich in 1894), contemporary social science (such as Cesare Lombroso's theory of anthropological criminality), and literary antecedents (such as Charles Dickens' Bleak House, and writers such as Émile Zola and Henrik Ibsen). In the final two modules, we think about the aftermath of The Secret Agent, first in terms of its literary influences, and then in terms of its prescience in anticipating the nature of terrorism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Conrad's Life

In this module, we focus on the life of Joseph Conrad, thinking in particular about his upbringing as the son of Polish nationalists, his early career as a merchant sailor in both France and England, and his later work as a writer of novels.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Watts, C. (2018, August 15). Conrad: The Secret Agent - Conrad's Life [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Watts, C. "Conrad: The Secret Agent – Conrad's Life." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


lecturer placeholder image

Prof. Cedric Watts

Sussex University