Typhoon (novella)

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First book edition (US)
AuthorJoseph Conrad
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreAdventure story
PublisherPall Mall Magazine
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)

Typhoon is a short novel by Joseph Conrad, begun in 1899 and serialized in Pall Mall Magazine in January–March 1902. Its first book publication was in New York by Putnam in 1902; it was also published in Britain in Typhoon and Other Stories by Heinemann in 1903.

Plot summary[edit]

Typhoon is a classic sea yarn, possibly based upon Conrad's actual experience of seaman's life, and probably on a real incident aboard of the steamer John P. Best (according to the book by Jerry Allen on the "Sea years of Joseph Conrad", first published in 1965). The author of the mentioned book - an American journalist - did not reveal in her book any further details. Joseph Conrad himself described it as a "recent and much-discussed incident" (Author's note to the novella).

The "Typhoon" describes how Captain MacWhirr sails the SS Nan-Shan, a British-built steamer running under the Siamese flag, into a typhoon—a mature tropical cyclone of the northwestern part of the Pacific Ocean. Other characters include the young Jukes - most probably an alter ego of Conrad from the time he had sailed under captain John McWhirr - and Solomon Rout, the chief engineer. The novella classically evokes the seafaring life at the turn of the century. While Macwhirr, who, according to Conrad, "never walked on this Earth" - is emotionally estranged from his family and crew, and though he refuses to consider an alternative course to skirt the typhoon, his indomitable will in the face of a superior natural force elicits grudging admiration.


  • Captain Thomas MacWhirr, an empirical man without imagination.
  • Captain Wilson from "Melita", the "storm-strategist".
  • Jukes, the first mate (with no first name).
  • Jukes' absent friends - second mate Jack Allen and another mate from trans-Atlantic liner (addressee of Jukes' letter).
  • Solomon Rout, the chief engineer, an experienced seaman.
  • Second engineer Harry and third engineer Beale.
  • The boatswain.
  • The second mate.
  • Sailors, steward and cook of the "Nan-Shan".
  • The coolies, hired workers from India and China.
  • The clerk for Messrs. Bun-Hin Co.
  • Mrs. Lucy MacWhirr, the Captain's wife.
  • Lydia MacWhirr, the Captain's daughter and Tom MacWhirr, the Captain's son.
  • Mrs. Rout, the chief engineer's wife and the elder Mrs. Rout, the chief engineer's mother.
  • Messrs. Sigg and Son, the owners of the boat.
  • Owners and foremen (Mr. Mr. Bates and Tait) from the building yard.

External links[edit]