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Definition: Golding, Sir William Gerald from Philip's Encyclopedia

English novelist. He achieved fame with his allegorical debut novel, Lord of the Flies (1954). Other novels include The Spire (1964) and the trilogy The Ends of the Earth (1991), which incorporates the Booker Prize-winning Rites of Passage (1980). He received the 1983 Nobel Prize in literature.


Summary Article: Golding, William (Gerald) from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English novelist. His work is often principally concerned with the fundamental corruption and evil inherent in human nature. His first book, Lord of the Flies (1954; filmed in 1962), concerns the degeneration into savagery of a group of English schoolboys marooned on a Pacific island after their plane crashes; it is a chilling allegory (story with a meaning beyond its literal sense) about the savagery lurking beneath the thin veneer of modern ‘civilized’ life. Pincher Martin (1956) is a study of greed and self-delusion. Later novels include The Spire (1964). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983 and knighted in 1988.

Golding was born in St Columb Minor, Cornwall, England. He was educated at Oxford University from 1932–35. While still an undergraduate, he published Poems (1934). After Oxford, he worked for a few years as actor, writer, and director for a number of small theatre companies, and in 1939 became a schoolteacher in Salisbury. He spent the war years 1940–5 in the Royal Navy, as an officer in charge of a rocket ship and instructor of naval cadets. He learnt ancient Greek during World War II and his study of the Greek myths, Homer, and the tragedians was an important influence on his work. He returned to his teaching post after the war, resigning in 1961 when the success of Lord of the Flies made it possible for him to write full time.

Golding's novels deal with universal themes and anxieties: evil, greed, guilt, primal instincts, and unknown forces. His own anxieties were influential too; his first childhood memory was of the terror and darkness he felt in the flint-walled cellar of the family's medieval house in Marlborough, Wiltshire. The proximity of numerous prehistoric sites to his home, like Silbury Hill and Stonehenge, sparked in interest in archaeology; he thought of archaeologists as explorers of the darkness under the earth. Darkness Visible (1979) is a disturbing book full of symbolism. The Sea Trilogy – Rites of Passage (1980; Booker Prize), Close Quarters (1987), and Fire Down Below (1989) – tells the story of a voyage to Australia in Napoleonic times through the eyes of a young aristocrat. In The Inheritors (1955), savage Homo sapiens brutally defeat the inarticulate but feeling Neanderthals. Among Golding's other novels are Freefall (1959) and The Scorpion God (1971). He published two essay collections, The Hot Gates and Other Occasional Pieces (1966) and A Moving Target (1982), and a travel book, An Egyptian Journey (1985).

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