William Golding was born on 19th September in 1911, in Cornwall, England. He was born to Alec Golding, a schoolmaster, Mildred, a social lady. William spent his early years at Marlborough, where his father taught as a science teacher. Since his mother was a Cornish, she used to tell him Cornish fairy tales which she had heard in her childhood. His father’s scientific knowledge along with his mother’s storytelling technique played an important role in his early growth as a writer.
William’s educational journey started from the year 1930 where he studied at Brasenose College, Oxford. At first, he opted for natural sciences, but the subject did not attract him. After two years, he transferred to English Literature. He completed his graduation in 1934 with Second class honor. Soon after graduation, he published his poems with the help of a friend, Adam Bittleston. During his school years, he read and admired the literary efforts of H. G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne, which frequently appeared in illusions in his writings.
William Golding married an analytical chemist, Ann Brookfield, on the 30th of September in 1939. They spent a happy married life and Ann remained a faithful companion until his death. The couple also had two children; David and Judith.
William Golding and his wife, Ann, moved to Cornwall in 1985, where he spent the last years of his life. He died of heart failure in 1993 and was buried at a local parish churchyard in Wiltshire. Before death, he was working on his novel, The Double Tongue, which was published posthumously after his death in 1995.
Some Important Facts of His Life
- His writings are read and translated in more than thirty-five languages across the globe.
- He wrote twelve novels, one play, and many other notable works including journals, essays, travel books, and short stories.
- He won Cover Booker Prize in 1980 and Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983.
- His world-famous novel, Lord of the Flies, was adapted for films.
William Golding, a leading figure of the 19th century, successfully pursued two careers in life; first as a schoolmaster and later as a poet. Soon after his graduation in 1934, he followed the family tradition by becoming a schoolmaster in Salisbury, Wiltshire, where he taught English. Unfortunately, his teaching career was interrupted in 1940 when WWII broke out. He participated in the war: fought bloody skirmishes fended of planes and submarines and also held command of a rocker-launching craft.
However, he went back to writing and teaching in 1945 after the war and made various attempts to publish his work. Luckily, in 1954, after several failures, his masterpiece, Lord of the Flies, made inroads into the literary world. The novel deals with an unsuccessful struggle against war and barbarism, thus presenting the darker side of mankind. Later, he reflected his life experiences in his other novel, The Spire, which appeared in 1964. Weaving the horrible experiences of war, he crafted another novel, Pincher Martin, in 1956. Although he produced many masterpieces in his life, yet he gained popularity for his first novel. However, some of his other notable works include The Paper Man, Fire down Below, To the Ends of the Earth and Free Fall.
After establishing his career first as a teacher and then as a writer, William Golding stepped into the world of letters. Most of his writings are based on his life experiences, dealing with the phenomenon of human life and nature. His works were published and acknowledged internationally during his lifetime. Since he is considered the most important modernist poet and writer, his pieces fail to follow the paradigms set by the previous authors. He adopted a distinctive writing style, avoiding complex structures, heavy use of poetic devices and exaggeration. Rather, his allegorical style and symbolism set him apart from the other authors. The recurring themes in most of his pieces are loss, death, the darker aspects of humanity, violence, and power.
William Golding’s Major Works
- Best Novels: He was an outstanding novelist, some of his best novels include The Lord of the Flies, Free Fall, The Spire, The Pyramid, Darkness Visible, The Paper Man and The Double Tongue.
- Other Works: Besides novels, he tried his hands on nonfiction, poetry and short stores some of them include The Hot Gates, The Moving Target, Poems 1934, The Brass Butterfly, and An Egyptian Journal.
William Golding’s Influence on Future Literature
William brought revolutionary changes to the world of literature. His thought-provoking ideas, the war experiences, and the analytical approach inspired many writers and critics. His literary qualities and unique ways of expression helped shape the opinions of the readers on how negative instinct and lust for power corrode the beautiful fabric of society. His indifferent writing style and way of expressing things and ideas influenced many post-modernist authors. He successfully presented his ideas in his writings that even today writers try to imitate his unique style, considering him a beacon for writing poetry and novels.
- Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?” (Lord of the Flies)
- Maybe — I hope it is — redemption to guess and perhaps perceive that the universe, the hell which we see for all its beauty, vastness, majesty, is only part of a whole which is quite unimaginable.” (A Moving Target)
- Consider a man riding a bicycle. Whoever he is, we can say three things about him. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. Most important of all, we know that if at any point between the beginning and the end of his journey he stops moving and does not get off the bicycle he will fall off it. That is a metaphor for the journey through the life of any living thing, and I think of any society of living things.” (A Moving Target)