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William Golding

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Title: William Golding  
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Subject: List of Cornish writers, 20th century in literature, Lord of the Flies, Man Booker Prize, Culture of Cornwall
Collection: 1911 Births, 1993 Deaths, 20Th-Century British Novelists, 20Th-Century Dramatists and Playwrights, 20Th-Century English Novelists, 20Th-Century English Poets, 20Th-Century Poets, Alumni of Brasenose College, Oxford, British Nobel Laureates, British Schoolteachers, Cornish Dramatists and Playwrights, Cornish Novelists, Cornish Poets, Cornish Writers, English Dramatists and Playwrights, English Nobel Laureates, English Writers, James Tait Black Memorial Prize Recipients, Knights Bachelor, Man Booker Prize Winners, Nobel Laureates in Literature, People from Marlborough, People from Newquay, Royal Navy Personnel of World War II, Royal Navy Sailors
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William Golding

Sir William Golding
Golding in 1983
Born William Gerald Golding
(1911-09-19)19 September 1911
Newquay, Cornwall, England, UK
Died 19 June 1993(1993-06-19) (aged 81)
Perranarworthal, Cornwall, England, UK
Occupation Schoolteacher, Writer of novels, plays and poems
Nationality English
Genre Survivalist fiction, robinsonade, adventure, sea story, science fiction, essay, historical fiction, stageplay, poetry
Notable works Lord of the Flies
Notable awards Booker Prize
Nobel Prize in Literature


Sir William Gerald Golding CBE (19 September 1911 – 19 June 1993) was an English novelist, playwright, and poet. Best known for his novel Lord of the Flies, he won a Nobel Prize in Literature, and was also awarded the Booker Prize for literature in 1980 for his novel Rites of Passage, the first book in what became his sea trilogy, To the Ends of the Earth.

Golding was knighted by Elizabeth II in 1988.[1][2] He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.[1] In 2008, The Times ranked Golding third on their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".[3]


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Marriage and family 1.2
    • War service 1.3
    • Death 1.4
  • Career 2
    • Writing success 2.1
    • Fiction 2.2
  • List of works 3
    • Poetry 3.1
    • Theatric Works 3.2
    • Novels 3.3
    • Non-fiction 3.4
    • Unpublished works 3.5
  • References 4
  • Sources 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


Early life

Plaque at Bishop Wordsworth's School, Salisbury

William Golding was born in his grandmother's house, 47 Mountwise, Newquay,[4] Cornwall[5] and he spent many childhood holidays there. He grew up in Marlborough, Wiltshire, where his father (Alec Golding) was a science master at Marlborough Grammar School (1905 to retirement). Alec Golding was a socialist who advocated science-inspired rationalism, and the young Golding and his elder brother Joseph attended the school where his father taught.[6] His mother, Mildred (Curnoe),[7] kept house at 29, The Green, Marlborough, and was a campaigner for female suffrage. In 1930 Golding went to Brasenose College, Oxford, where he read Natural Sciences for two years before transferring to English Literature.[8]

Golding took his B.A. degree with Second Class Honours in the summer of 1934, and later that year a book of his Poems, was published by Macmillan & Co, with the help of his Oxford friend, the anthroposophist Adam Bittleston.

He was a schoolmaster teaching Philosophy and English in 1939, then just English from 1945 to 1962 at Bishop Wordsworth's School, Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Marriage and family

Golding married Ann Brookfield, an analytic chemist,[9](p161) on 30 September 1939 and they had two children, Judith and David.[5]

War service

During World War II, Golding joined the Royal Navy in 1940.[10] He fought (on board a destroyer) and was briefly involved in the pursuit and sinking of the German battleship Bismarck. He also participated in the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, commanding a landing ship that fired salvoes of rockets onto the beaches, and was in action at Walcheren at which 23 out of 24 assault craft were sunk.[11]


In 1985, Golding and his wife moved to Tullimaar House at Perranarworthal, near Truro, Cornwall. He died of heart failure eight years later, on 19 June 1993. He was buried in the village churchyard at Bowerchalke, South Wiltshire (near the Hampshire and Dorset county boundaries). He left the draft of a novel, The Double Tongue, set in ancient Delphi, which was published posthumously.[2][12] His son David continues to live at Tullimaar House.


Writing success

In September 1953, after many rejections from other publishers, Golding sent a manuscript to Faber & Faber and was initially rejected by their reader. His book however was championed by Charles Monteith, a new editor at the firm. Monteith asked for some changes to the text and the novel was published in September 1954 as Lord of the Flies.

After moving in 1958 from [13] His publishing success made it possible for Golding to resign his teaching post at Bishop Wordsworth's School in 1961, and he spent that academic year in the United States as writer-in-residence at Hollins College, near Roanoke, Virginia.

Golding won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1979, and the Booker Prize in 1980. In 1983 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and was according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography "an unexpected and even contentious choice".[14] In 1988 Golding was appointed as a Knight Bachelor.[15] In September 1993, only a few months after his sudden death, the First International William Golding Conference was held in France, where Golding's presence had been promised and eagerly anticipated.[16]


His first novel, Lord of the Flies (1954; film, 1963 and 1990; play, adapted by Nigel Williams, 1995), describes a group of boys stranded on a tropical island reverting to savagery. The Inheritors (1955) shows "new people" (generally identified with Homo sapiens sapiens), triumphing over a gentler race (generally identified with Neanderthals) by deceit and violence. His 1956 novel Pincher Martin records the delusions experienced by a drowning sailor in his last moments. Free Fall (1959) explores the issue of free choice as a prisoner held in solitary confinement in a German POW camp during World War Two looks back over his life. The Spire (1964) follows the building (and near collapse) of a huge spire onto a medieval cathedral (generally assumed to be Salisbury Cathedral); the spire symbolizing both spiritual aspiration and worldly vanity. In his 1967 novel The Pyramid three separate stories in a shared setting (a small English town in the 1920s) are linked by a narrator, and The Scorpion God (1971) consists of three novellas, the first set in a prehistoric African hunter-gatherer band ('Clonk, Clonk'), the second in an ancient Egyptian court ('The Scorpion God') and the third in the court of a Roman emperor ('Envoy Extraordinary'). The last of these reworks his 1958 play The Brass Butterfly. His later novels include Darkness Visible (1979), which is about a terrorist group, a paedophile teacher, and a mysterious angel-like figure who survives a fire in the blitz, The Paper Men (1984) which is about the conflict between a writer and his biographer, and a sea trilogy To the Ends of the Earth, which includes the Rites of Passage (1980), Close Quarters (1987), and Fire Down Below (1989), the first book of which (originally intended as a stand-alone novel) won the Booker Prize.

List of works


Theatric Works

  • The Brass Butterfly (1958)



Unpublished works

  • Seahorse was written in 1948. It is a biographical account of sailing on the south coast of England whilst in training for D-Day.[18]
  • Circle Under the Sea is an adventure novel about a writer who sails to discover archaeological treasures off the coast of the Scilly Isles.[19]
  • Short Measure is a novel set in a British boarding school.[20]


  1. ^ a b William Golding: Awards. William Retrieved 17 June 2012
  2. ^ a b Bruce Lambert (20 June 1993). "'"William Golding Is Dead at 81; The Author of 'Lord of the Flies. The New York Times. Retrieved 6 September 2007. 
  3. ^ The 50 greatest British writers since 1945. The Times (5 January 2008). Retrieved on 1 February 2010.
  4. ^ "General Logon Page". Retrieved 2013-01-31. 
  5. ^ a b Kevin McCarron, ‘Golding, Sir William Gerald (1911–1993)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2006 accessed 13 Nov 2007
  6. ^ (Which should not be confused with Marlborough College, the nearby "public" boarding school).
  7. ^ Raychel Haugrud Reiff, William Golding: Lord of the Flies, Marshall Cavendish, 2009
  8. ^ Carey, pp. 41, 49
  9. ^ Harold Bloom (2008). William Golding's Lord of the Flies; Bloom's modern critical interpretations. Infobase Publishing. pp. 161–165.  
  10. ^ Raychel Haugrud Reiff, William Golding: Lord of the Flies, page 58 (Marshall Cavendish, 2010). ISBN 978-0-7614-4276-9
  11. ^  
  12. ^ Golding, William (1996).  
  13. ^ James Lovelock, ‘What is Gaia?’, accessed 16 May 2013
  14. ^ Kevin McCarron, ‘Golding, Sir William Gerald (1911–1993)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009 accessed 15 May 2011
  15. ^ The London Gazette: no. 51558. p. 13986. 13 December 1988. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  16. ^ F. Regard (ed.), Fingering Netsukes: Selected Papers from the First International William Golding Conference, Saint-Etienne, PUSE, 1995.
  17. ^ The Double Tongue 1996 Faber reprint ISBN 978-0-571-17720-2
  18. ^ Carey, p. 130
  19. ^ Carey, p. 137
  20. ^ Carey, p. 142


  • Carey, John (2009). William Golding: The Man Who Wrote Lord of the Flies. New York: Simon & Schuster.  

Further reading

  • L. L. Dickson, The Modern Allegories of William Golding (University of South Florida Press, 1990). ISBN 0-8130-0971-5.
  • R. A. Gekoski and P. A. Grogan, William Golding: A Bibliography, London, André Deutsch, 1994. ISBN 978-0-233-98611-1.
  • "Boys Armed with Sticks: William Golding's Lord of the Flies". Chapter in B. Schoene-Harwood. Writing Men. Edinburgh University Press, 2000.

External links

  • BBC television interview from 1959
  • Biography of William Golding at the Nobel Prize website
  • Interview by Mary Lynn Scott – Universal Pessimist, Cosmic Optimist
  • William Golding Ltd Website of Golding family.
  • An account of Golding's last eveningLast Words by D. M. Thomas – Guardian – Saturday 10 June 2006 (Review Section)
  • Official Facebook page
  • Nobel Prize Lecture
  • Works by William Golding at Open Library
  • "William Golding's crisis"
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