|Born:||September 19, 1911 |
Newquay, Cornwall, England
|Died:||June 19, 1993 (aged†81) |
Perranarworthal, Cornwall, England
Sir William Gerald Golding (19 September 1911 – 19 June 1993) was a British novelist, poet and Nobel Prize for Literature laureate best known for his novel Lord of the Flies. He was also awarded the Booker Prize for literature in 1980, for his novel Rites of Passage, the first book of the trilogy To the Ends of the Earth.
Golding was born at 47 Mount Wise, Newquay, Cornwall, England. As a published author he referred to his place of birth as being the (medieval) parish of St. Columb Minor, allowing readers to think that he had been born in the village of that name, although he had no connection with it. The property in the newer, adjacent town of Newquay was a guest house belonging to his mother's family, and he spent many childhood holidays there. He grew up at his family home in Marlborough, Wiltshire, where his father was a science master at Marlborough Grammar School (1905 to retirement). Alec Golding was a socialist with a strong commitment to scientific rationalism, and the young Golding and his elder brother Joseph attended the school where his father taught (not to be confused with Marlborough College, the "public" boarding school). His mother, Mildred (nťe Curnoe), kept house at 29, The Green, Marlborough, and supported the moderate campaigners for female suffrage. In 1930 Golding went up to Oxford University as an undergraduate at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he read Natural Sciences for two years before transferring to English Literature. He took his B.A. (Hons) Second Class in the summer of 1934, and later that year his first book, Poems, was published in London by Macmillan & Co, through the help of his Oxford friend, the anthroposophist Adam Bittleston.
Golding married Ann Brookfield, an analytical chemist, on 30 September 1939. A son was born in 1940 and a daughter in 1944.
During World War II, Golding fought in the Royal Navy and was briefly involved in the pursuit of Germany's mightiest battleship, the Bismarck. He also participated in the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, and at war's end returned to teaching and writing.
In 1985 Golding and his wife moved to Perranarworthal, near Truro, Cornwall, where he died of heart failure on June 19, 1993. He was buried in the village churchyard at Bowerchalke, Wiltshire, England. He left the draft of a novel, The Double Tongue, set in Delphi in Roman times, which was published posthumously.
In September 1953 Golding sent the typescript of a book to Faber & Faber of London. Initially rejected by a reader there, the book was championed by Charles Monteith, then a new editor at the firm, and was published in September 1954 as Lord of the Flies. It was shortly followed by other novels, including The Inheritors, Pincher Martin, and Free Fall.
Publishing success made it possible for Golding to resign his teaching post in 1961, and he spent that academic year as writer-in-residence at Hollins College near Roanoke, Virginia. Having moved in 1958 from Salisbury to nearby Bowerchalke, he met his fellow villager and walking companion James Lovelock. The two discussed Lovelock's hypothesis that the living matter of the planet Earth functions like a single organism, and Golding suggested naming this hypothesis after Gaia, the goddess of the earth in Greek mythology.
In 1970 Golding was a candidate for the Chancellorship of the University of Kent at Canterbury, but lost to Jo Grimond. Golding won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1979, the Booker Prize in 1980, and in 1983 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was knighted by the Queen in 1988.
Golding's often allegorical fiction makes broad use of allusions to classical literature, mythology, and Christian symbolism. No distinct thread unites his novels, and the subject matter and technique vary. His first novel, Lord of the Flies (1954; film, 1963 and 1990, play, adapted by Nigel Williams, 1995), dealt with an unsuccessful struggle against barbarism and war, thus showing the ambiguity and fragility of civilization. The Inheritors (1955) looked back into prehistory, advancing the thesis that humankind's evolutionary ancestors, "the new people" (generally identified with homo sapiens sapiens), triumphed over a gentler race (generally identified with Neanderthals) as much by violence and deceit as by natural superiority.
Golding's later novels include Darkness Visible (1979), The Paper Men (1984), and the comic-historical sea trilogy To the Ends of the Earth (BBC TV 2005), comprising the Booker Prize-winning Rites of Passage (1980), Close Quarters (1987), and Fire Down Below (1989).
William Golding was also prominent among Loch Ness Monster theorists and wrote articles for Popular Science about the nature of this purported phenomenon.
He also played piano as a hobby.