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Written in 1910, The Secret Sharer was first published in Harper's Magazine in 1911. Joseph Conrad says that he had the basic facts of the tale in his possession for many years and cited several sources for the story. One was his own first command of a ship in 1888 soon after he passed the Captain's exam and the other was the murder that occurred on the Cutty Sark, the legendary sea clipper in 1880 where the first mate killed a black man whom he intensely disliked. Later the ship's captain helped Smith escape to an American ship and when the crew discovered what had happened, they rebelled. Four days later, the captain killed himself. The happenings on Cutty Sark made a big splash in the media and obviously stayed with Conrad for some time after the event died down in the news.