The Secret Agent is Conrad's dark, and darkly comic story of a band of spies, anarchists, agents-provocateurs plotting and counter-plotting in the back streets of London in the early 20th Century. The novel centers on Verloc, a shop-owner, phony-anarchist and double-agent, who becomes embroiled in an ambitious terrorist plan to bomb the Greenwich Observatory. It also bleakly satirises early 20th Century anarchism and the operations of the police and intelligence forces, while being none too complimentary about the media and general public either. Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski) was a Polish author who wrote in English after settling in England. He was granted British nationality in 1886, but always considered himself a Pole. Conrad is regarded as one of the greatest novelists in English, although he did not speak the language fluently until he was in his twenties (and always with a marked accent). He wrote stories and novels, often with a nautical setting, that depict trials of the human spirit in the midst of an indifferent universe. He was a master prose stylist, who brought a distinctly non-English tragic sensibility into English literature.