Childhood & Early Years
William Golding was born on 19 September 1911 at his grandmother’s house in Newquay, Cornwall, England, to Alec and Mildred Golding. He grew up with his elder brother in Wiltshire. His father taught at the Marlborough Grammar School.
His mother was an active suffragette and fought for women’s right. He and his brother went to his father’s school where Golding was subjected to bullying and alienation, which is exclusively mentioned in his only biography written by John Carey.
He attended the Brasenose College, Oxford, where he was initially educated to be a scientist and he studied natural science for 2 years but he developed an interest in literature and got himself transferred to English literature and philosophy.
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In 1934, around the time when Golding was about to graduate from the Oxford, his book of poetry called ‘Poems’ was published by Macmillan & Co, London. It was materialized with the help of his oxford friend Adam Bittleston.
For a short period of time he worked at a settlement house and in theatre companies, exploring himself as an actor and a writer and eventually started to teach English and philosophy at Bishop’s Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury in 1935.
In 1940, Golding abandoned teaching and joined the Royal Navy to participate in World War II. He spent next 5 years of his life serving his nation and travelling on a boat. After his stint with the war, he went back to teaching.
In 1954, after facing at least 21 rejections from publishing companies all over England, Golding finally got his first work of fiction ‘Lord of the flies’ published by Faber & Faber, London. The book was based on the brutality of human nature.
The novel was based on his experiences that he gathered from working with the army in the adversity of the war. The story revolves around a bunch of adolescent boys who are left alone on an island and how they turn against each other in order to survive.
In 1955, he got another novel published with the name of ‘The Inheritors’. This was one of Golding’s most famous novels from his literary career. It was based on the violent and deceptive nature of human beings.
In 1956, his ‘Pincher Martin’ came out and it was a work of fiction that drew its inspiration from Golding’s experience with the army, war, survival and brutality, like ‘Lord of the Flies’. The protagonist of the novel is shown to be struggling hard to survive.
In 1959, the extension of his previous novel ‘Pincher Martin’ came out and it was called ‘Free Fall’. The main character of the novel is an artist who is narrating the whole story and struggling with the conflict between rationality and faith.
In 1964, Golding got ‘The Spire’ published, a fiction that deals with the concept of faith. The novel revolves around the whimsical thought of building an immense spire at the top of a cathedral by the dean of the cathedral.
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In 1967, ‘The Pyramid’ was published. It is a novel based on music and the English society shown through a narrow point of view of an imaginary village in England named as Stilbourne. His next book was called ‘The Scorpion God: Three Short Novels’.
In 1979, ‘Darkness Visible’ was published. Golding explored the interdependence of the good and evil in this work of fiction. Next came ‘The Paper Men’ which was famously called out to be the worst work of his literary career.
From 1980-1989, ‘The Sea Trilogy’ was published. It comprised of three full length novels, ‘Rites of Passage’, ‘Close Quarters’ and ‘Fire Down Below’, in which emotional growth and moral enlightenment of a young voyager is portrayed.
In 1990, a film adaptation of Golding’s classic ‘Lord of the Flies’ came out. It was the second film adaptation of the novel - the first one was made in the 1960s by Peter Brook. The movies were critically acclaimed like the novel.
Other works of Golding include: ‘the Double Tongue’, ‘Pooman and Young’, ‘Heskey’s Biografy’, ‘The Hot Gates’, ‘An Egyptian Journal’, ‘The Brass Butterfly’, ‘The Pyramid’, ‘To the Ends of the Earth’, ‘A moving Target’, etc.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1939, Golding got married to Ann Brookfield, an analytic chemist and had two children with her, Judith and David. He remained married to her until his death and died beside her at their house in Cornwall.
In 1993, Golding died of heart failure in Tullimaar House at Perranarworthal, Cornwall. He is buried in the village churchyard, South Wiltshire. His son David and daughter Judith now lives at the Tullimaar House.
After Golding’s death, his novel ‘The Double Tongue’ was published.
‘Seahorse’, ‘Circle Under the Sea’ and ‘Short Measure’ are amongst some of his works that never got published.
Golding was of a reclusive nature and did not give many interviews to the media and always restrained from getting any biography published on himself.
It was after his death that John Carey came up with his only biography called ‘William Golding: The Man Who Wrote Lord of the Flies’.