William Golding

William Golding

Infobox Writer
name = William Golding

birthdate = birth date|1911|9|19|mf=y
birthplace = St Columb Minor, Cornwall, United Kingdom
deathdate = death date and age|1993|6|19|1911|9|19|mf=y
deathplace = Perranarworthal, Cornwall, England
occupation = Novelist
nationality = British
period =
genre = allegory, essay
notableworks = Lord of the Flies
awards = awd|Nobel Prize in Literature|1983
influenced = Stephen King

Sir William Gerald Golding (19 September, 191119 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".


Early life

Golding was born at his maternal grandmother's house, 47 Mountwise, St Columb Minor, Newquay, Cornwall,Kevin McCarron, ‘Golding, Sir William Gerald (1911–1993)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2006 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/52079 accessed 13 Nov 2007] ] 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 (which should not to be confused with Marlborough College, the "public" boarding school). His mother, Mildred, kept house at 29, The Green, Marlborough, and supported the moderate campaigners for female suffrage. In 1930 Golding went to Oxford University as an undergraduate at Brasenose College, 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.

Marriage and family

Golding married Ann Brookfield on 30 September 1940 and they had two children, Judy and David.

War service

During World War II, Golding fought in the Royal Navy and was briefly involved in the pursuit and sinking of Germany's mightiest battleship, the "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 then in a naval action at Walcheren in which 23 out of 24 assault crafts were sunk. [cite book| last=Mortimer | first=John | authorlink=John Mortimer| title=Character Parts| location=London| publisher=Penguin | year=1986| isbn=0-14-008959-4] At the war's end he 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, 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. [cite book| last=Golding | first=William | title=The Double Tongue| location=London| publisher=Faber | year=1996| isbn=9780571178032] [cite news| author=Bruce Lambert| title=William Golding Is Dead at 81; The Author of 'Lord of the Flies'| url=http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0919.html| work=The New York Times| date=20 June 1993| accessdate=2007-09-06 ]


Writing success

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. He asked for various cuts in the text and the novel 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 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. 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 the politician and leader of the Liberal Party, 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 Queen Elizabeth II 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. However his novels are often set in closed communities such as islands, villages, monasteries, groups of hunter-gatherers, ships at sea or a pharaoh's court. 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. It has also been said that it is an allegory of World War II. "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. "The Spire" 1964 follows the building (and near collapse) of a huge spire onto a medieval cathedral church (generally assumed to be Salisbury Cathedral; the church and the spire itself act as a potent symbols both of the dean's highest spiritual aspirations and of his worldly vanities. His 1954 novel "Pincher Martin" concerns the last moments of a sailor thrown into the north Atlantic after his ship is attacked. The structure is echoed by that of the later Booker Prize winner by Yann Martel, "Life of Pi". The 1967 novel "The Pyramid" comprises three separate stories linked by a common setting (a small English town in the 1920s) and narrator. "The Scorpion God" (1971) is a volume of three short novels set in a prehistoric African hunter-gatherer band ('Clonk, Clonk'), an ancient Egyptian court ('The Scorpion God') and the court of a roman emperor ('Envoy Extraordinary'). The last of these is a reworking of his 1958 play "The Brass Butterfly".

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).

Lord of the Flies

The key idea of "Lord of the Flies" (the title was suggested by Golding's friend TS Eliot) is that people, when removed from civilized society, will devolve and return back to being primitive creatures. Golding portrays this idea throughout the whole book by using different characters. The book is about a group of boys who are stranded on a tropical island without any adults. At first they seem very excited about the situation and vote for one of the boys, Ralph, to be their leader. Another one of the boys, Jack, leaves the group to form his own tribe, which becomes more and more violent and obsessed with hunting pigs and the so-called beast that the boys believe lives on the island. At the end of the book, they try to kill Ralph before they are all rescued by a naval officer. The title of the book comes from a direct translation of the Latin word Beelzebub, meaning the devil. Ralph, the main character in the story, is a fair and decent boy; he is the only boy who will listen to Piggy. Piggy is an overweight boy who is made fun of by everyone else for being fat and because he wears glasses and suffers from asthma, even though he is smarter than the rest.

Ralph continually stresses to them the importance of making a signal fire on top of the mountain, so that any passing ships might see the smoke and come to rescue them. He tells the boys, "The fire is the most important thing on the island. How can we ever be rescued except by luck, if we don't keep a fire going?" The rest of the boys become more savage and are more interested in hunting than keeping the fire going. Eventually even Ralph and Piggy become savage, if only for a moment. When Simon crawls out from the forest in the dark, the boys believe he is the beast, and Ralph and Piggy join in as they beat him to death with their bare hands.

Out of all of the boys the one who changes the most on the island is Jack. He was head boy in his choir, who soon become the hunters, and he is more persistent than Ralph in his desire to become the chief, saying "I ought to be chief, because I'm chapter chorister and head boy". Jack also has an unpleasant personality, expressed when saying "Shut up, Fatty." to Piggy. Jack shows his savageness very early on and later develops an even darker personality. While Jack was at first unable to kill a pig, because of the "knife cutting into living flesh.", he later begins to enjoy the hunting of the pigs with a spear, and is not at all upset by the deaths of other boys. When Piggy falls to his death after being knocked off a cliff, Jack screams "That's what you'll get! I meant that!" In the end everyone but Piggy and Simon, who was killed by Jack's tribe, are lured to join them either by the knowledge that the hunters would provide them with meat, or are tortured and bullied into joining them.

The boys are rescued by a British navy officer; he is shocked to discover that these are British boys that have ended up as savages. If British boys, especially ones as civilised as these, could turn into wild savages then anyone could. The naval officer emphasises this, saying "I should have thought that a pack of British boys - you're all British aren't you? - would have been able to put up a better show than that".

Major works

*"Poems" (1934)
*"Lord of the Flies" (1954)
*"The Inheritors" (1955)
*"Pincher Martin" (1956)
*"The Brass Butterfly" (play) (1958)
*"Free Fall" (1959)
*"The Spire" (1964)
*"The Hot Gates" (essays) (1965)
*"The Pyramid" (1967)
*"The Scorpion God" (1971)
*"Darkness Visible" (1979)
*"A Moving Target" (essays) (1982)
*"The Paper Men" (1984)
*"An Egyptian Journal" (1985)
*"To the Ends of the Earth" (trilogy)
**"Rites of Passage" (1980)
**"Close Quarters" (1987)
**"Fire Down Below" (1989)
*"The Double Tongue" (posthumous) (1996)

ee also



External links

* [http://vle.williamhoward.cumbria.sch.uk/course/view.php?id=5 "The Spire" a sixth form perspective at William Howard School]
* [http://www.edupaperback.org/showauth.cfm?authid=92 Golding's Life and work reviewed at the Educational Paperback Association]
* [http://nobelprize.org/literature/laureates/1983/golding-bio.html Biography of William Golding] at the Nobel Prize website
* [http://aurora.icaap.org/index.php/aurora/article/view/50/63 Interview] by Mary Lynn Scott- Universal Pessimist, Cosmic Optimist
* [http://www.faber.co.uk/index.html Faber and Faber] - UK publisher of William Golding
* [http://www.william-golding.co.uk/ William Golding Ltd] Website of Golding family.
* [http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/generalfiction/story/0,,1793967,00.html "Last Words" An account of Golding's last evening by D.M. Thomas - Guardian - Saturday 10 June 2006 ("Review" Section)]
*Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article by Kevin McCarron (online edn, May 2006), "Golding, Sir William Gerald (1911–1993)"

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