Many believe that Conrad based his novel Lord Jim on an actual event that took place. A British ship, the Jeddah, sailed from Singapore with Muslim Pilgrims on their way to Mecca for a pilgrimage (the hajj). The British captain and officers abandoned the ship and the pilgrims were left to die but miraculously, they survived and were picked up by a French ship. This caused a big scandal in England and there was an official inquiry into the events. The character of Jim, supposedly, is based on an Indian adventurer who was born in England.
In the first part of the book, Jim is the first mate on board a ship called the Patna. The Patna, like the Jeddah, is sailing to Mecca for a hajj. It is filled with Muslim pilgrims. There is a storm and Jim joins the captain and crew as they abandon the passengers. Like in real life, the captain and crew are picked up, and the passengers survive. Jim's partners in crime, however, get away and he faces justice by himself. He is convicted of dereliction of duty. He meets Marlow at his trial, who gets him a job as a clerk on another ship, but as the novel progresses, Jim keeps running into situations and people that know about his disgrace aboard the Patna, so he has to keep escaping.
In the second part of the book, Jim finally winds up on a remote settlement in Malaysia where he can escape his past. He becomes a type of white chief among the people, and eventually dies for them. The renegade character Col. Kurtz in the Vietnam-era movie Apocalypse Now is based on the character of Jim.
Joseph Conrad was a Pole, but he left Poland, moved to France, and went to sea. He finally became a British citizen and became a writer in England.
You can read more about his life and his works right here on enotes. See the link below.