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William Golding

Meet William Golding, the brilliant British author whose masterpiece, Lord of the Flies (1954), captivated readers and forever etched his name in literary history. But beyond his iconic novel, Golding's thought-provoking quotes, complex political views, and remarkable biography shed light on a man who delved into the complexities of humanity, leaving an indelible mark on literature. Discover the extraordinary mind behind the books, his untimely death, and the intriguing facts that shaped his legacy.

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William Golding

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Meet William Golding, the brilliant British author whose masterpiece, Lord of the Flies (1954), captivated readers and forever etched his name in literary history. But beyond his iconic novel, Golding's thought-provoking quotes, complex political views, and remarkable biography shed light on a man who delved into the complexities of humanity, leaving an indelible mark on literature. Discover the extraordinary mind behind the books, his untimely death, and the intriguing facts that shaped his legacy.

William Golding's biography

William Golding was a British novelist and playwright whose experiences during World War II profoundly influenced his literary work.

William Golding's Biography
Birth:19th September 1911
Death:19th June 1993
Father:Alec Golding
Mother:Midred Curnoe
Spouse/Partners:Ann Brookfield (m. 1939-1993)
Children:Two
Cause of death:Heart failure
Famous Works:
Nationality:British
Literary Period:Postmodernism

British author William Golding was born on 19th September 1911, in Newquay, Cornwall. He spent his childhood in Marlborough, Wiltshire, where his father worked as a science master at Marlborough Grammar School. Golding's mother, Mildred, a campaigner for female suffrage and a Cornish native, often regaled him with ghost stories from her childhood, instilling in him a fascination with the supernatural.

In 1930, Golding enrolled at Brasenose College, Oxford, initially studying Natural Sciences before switching to English for his final two years. During his time at Oxford, he developed a close friendship with Adam Bittleston, an anthroposophist who later assisted in the publication of Golding's book of poems in 1934, titled Poems.

After completing his studies, Golding embarked on a teaching career. In 1935, he joined Michael Hall School in Streatham, South London, where he taught English for two years. He then pursued a Diploma of Education at Oxford before becoming a schoolmaster at Maidstone Grammar School from 1938 to 1940. In April 1940, Golding joined Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury, where he taught English, Philosophy, Greek, and drama until December 1940 when he joined the Royal Navy.

Golding served in the Royal Navy during World War II and actively participated in significant events. He was briefly involved in the pursuit and sinking of the German battleship Bismarck while serving on a destroyer. On D-Day, he commanded a landing craft that fired rockets onto the beaches during the invasion of Normandy. He also saw action at Walcheren, where a significant number of assault craft were lost.

William Golding, Portrait, StudySmarterFig. 1 - William Golding is a British author known for The Lord of the Flies.

Throughout his life, Golding struggled with alcoholism, which he considered a long-standing crisis. He openly acknowledged his difficulties with alcohol and its impact on his personal and professional life. Golding's struggles with alcohol influenced his writing process, often exacerbating writer's block and emotional turmoil. Despite his personal challenges, Golding found solace in the works of psychologist Carl Jung.

In 1971, he embarked on a journey to Switzerland to explore Jung's landscapes and began keeping a journal to record and interpret his dreams. This journal spanned over 22 years and served as a significant source of introspection for Golding, providing insights into his novels and reflections on his life.

Golding's literary career gained worldwide recognition with the publication of his most celebrated work, Lord of the Flies, in 1954. The novel explores the dark side of human nature through a group of young boys stranded on a deserted island. Golding's unique portrayal of the inherent evil within individuals captivated readers and established his reputation as a masterful storyteller.

In 1980, Golding won the Booker Prize for his novel Rites of Passage which was published the same year. Rites of Passage was the first of a trilogy called To the Ends of the Earth that explores a voyage to Australia in the early nineteenth century.

In 1983, Golding was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his profound and deeply philosophical body of work. The prestigious honour acknowledged his ability to explore the complexities of human behaviour and morality. He was knighted in 1988 for his contributions to literature.

William Golding's cause of death

William Golding passed away on 19th June 1993, from heart failure at his home, Tullimaar, in Perranarworthal, Cornwall. He was buried in the parish churchyard of Bowerchalke near his former home, marking the final resting place of a literary icon.

In 1995, his posthumously published novel, The Double Tongue, set in ancient Delphi, showcased his unwavering dedication to storytelling and cemented his legacy as a writer who delved into the depths of the human psyche. William Golding's life and work continue to inspire readers, provoking contemplation about the fragility of civilization and the innate darkness that resides within humanity.

William Golding's books

Golding's journey as a writer began in earnest during his time at Oxford University, where he pursued a degree in English literature. It was during this period that he developed his unique writing style, characterized by its profound exploration of human nature and the inherent darkness that lies within us all. The notable books include:

  1. Lord of the Flies (1954)
  2. The Inheritors (1955)
  3. Pincher Martin (1956)
  4. Free Fall (1959)
  5. The Spire (1964)
  6. Rites of Passage (1980)

Lord of the Flies (1954) by William Golding

In 1954, Golding unleashed his magnum opus upon the world, the haunting and thought-provoking novel Lord of the Flies. Set against the backdrop of a deserted island, the story follows a group of young boys as they struggle for survival, grappling with their primal instincts and the darkest recesses of human nature. Golding's masterful narrative delves into the depths of savagery, power, and the fragility of civilization, leaving an indelible impact on readers.

The Inheritors (1955) by William Golding

In The Inheritors, Golding took readers on an extraordinary journey back in time to the last days of the Neanderthals. Through the eyes of his primitive protagonists, he examined the clash between Neanderthal and Homo sapiens, delving into themes of innocence, loss, and the inevitability of progress. This profound exploration of the human condition, set against a prehistoric backdrop, showcases Golding's ability to evoke empathy and raise existential questions.

The Rites of Passage (1980) by William Golding

Rites of Passage is set in the early 19th century and follows Edmund Talbot, a young aristocratic gentleman, and his adventures aboard a ship called the Narrative which is bound for Australia. The novel takes the form of journal entries, beginning with Talbot's departure from England to Australia to take up a colonial administrative position. The Narrative serves as the vessel that carries a group of diverse characters, including other officials, sailors, and a group of female convicts being transported to the new land.

As the voyage progresses, Talbot's journal entries offer a candid and introspective account of the events and interactions on board the ship. Talbot, with his privileged background, struggles to find his place amidst the crew and passengers of varying social standings. The novel explores themes of class division, social hierarchy, and the clash between different worldviews.

William Golding and symbolism

Symbolism is a hallmark of Golding's literary style. His use of potent symbols and metaphors adds layers of depth and meaning to his stories. Whether it is the conch shell in Lord of the Flies representing order and democracy or the ship Narrative in Rites of Passage symbolizing a microcosm of society, Golding's skilful incorporation of symbolism invites readers to engage in critical analysis and interpretation.

William Golding's quotes

Throughout his illustrious career, William Golding offered profound insights into the human condition through his memorable quotes. Here are a few gems that showcase his views:

  1. 'The greatest ideas are the simplest.'
  2. 'I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men. They are far superior and always have been.'
  3. 'Men produces evil as a bee produces honey'
  4. 'Before the Second World War, I believed in the perfectability of social man; that a correct structure of society produced goodwill; and that, therefore, you could remove all social ills by a reorganisation of society. It is possible that I believe something of the same again; but after the war, I did not because I was unable to.'
  5. 'Maybe there is a beast... maybe it's only us' (Lord of the Flies)
  6. 'I think I would rather be a man than a god. We don't need anyone to believe in us. We just keep going anyhow.' (The Spire)

These quotes encapsulate Golding's keen observations on the complexities of human nature, society, and the moral dilemmas we face.

Political Views of William Golding

Beyond his literary contributions, Golding's political views added another layer of complexity to his persona. His experiences during World War II, where he served in the Royal Navy, deeply impacted his perspective on power, governance, and the human capacity for evil. Golding's scepticism toward political systems and his belief in the inherent flaws of humanity can be seen in his writings.

Facts about William Golding

Here is a summary of the interesting facts about William Golding below:

  1. Golding studied Natural Sciences for two years at Brasenose College, Oxford, but switched to English Literature, which he studied for his Bachelor's degree.

  2. Golding served in the Royal Navy during World War II. His experiences during the war, witnessing the atrocities and loss of faith in humanity, had a profound impact on his writing and the exploration of the dark side of human nature in his novels.

  3. Despite being a celebrated author, Golding initially faced difficulty in getting his works published. His manuscript for Lord of the Flies was rejected by 21 publishers before finally being accepted.

  4. In 1983, William Golding was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his contribution to the understanding of human nature through his novels. The Nobel Committee recognized his ability to depict the human condition with deep insight and psychological depth.

  5. Golding's writing style is characterized by its introspective nature and profound exploration of the human psyche. He often delved into the darker aspects of human nature, questioning the boundaries of morality and the capacity for evil within individuals and society.

  6. While Lord of the Flies brought him international recognition, Golding continued to write other notable works, including The Inheritors (1955), Pincher Martin (1956), Free Fall (1959), and The Spire (1964), each showcasing his distinctive storytelling and deep psychological insights.

  7. Golding's literary works often incorporated symbolism and allegory to convey deeper meanings. Objects such as the conch shell in Lord of the Flies or the pig's head representing the Lord of the Flies itself carry metaphorical significance and enrich the themes explored in his novels.

  8. Despite the success of his novels, Golding also faced criticism for the bleakness and pessimism present in his works. Some readers found his exploration of human nature to be disheartening and lacking hope.

William Golding - Key takeaways

  • British author William Golding was born on 19th September 1911, in Newquay, Cornwall.
  • Golding served in the Royal Navy during World War II. His experiences during the war, witnessing the atrocities and loss of faith in humanity, had a profound impact on his writing and the exploration of the dark side of human nature in his novels.
  • Golding's best-known works are Lord of the Flies, The Inheritors and Rites of Passage.
  • Symbolism is a hallmark of William Golding's literary style. His use of potent symbols and metaphors adds layers of depth and meaning to his stories.
  • William Golding passed away on 19th June 1993, from heart failure at his home, Tullimaar, in Perranarworthal, Cornwall.

References

  1. Fig. 1 - William Golding 1983 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:William_Golding_1983_(cropped).jpg) by Dutch National Archives (http://www.gahetna.nl/over-ons/open-data) is licensed by CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en)

Frequently Asked Questions about William Golding

William Golding is a significant figure in literature due to his profound exploration of human nature and morality. His novel Lord of the Flies is considered a classic and is widely studied in educational institutions for its themes of civilisation, savagery, and inherent evil. 

William Golding wrote Lord of the Flies as a counterpoint to the optimistic view of humanity presented in R.M. Ballantyne's "The Coral Island." His experiences in World War II, where he witnessed the darkness of human nature, heavily influenced his writing. He aimed to present a more realistic portrayal of how individuals might behave when removed from the constraints of civilisation. 

William Golding believed that human nature contained an inherent capacity for evil and violence, as demonstrated in his works, particularly Lord of the Flies.

Golding's writing style is characterized by its allegorical and symbolic nature, exploring deep themes through the use of vivid imagery, psychological depth, and a focus on moral dilemmas.

William Golding is famous for his novel Lord of the Flies, a work that delves into the inherent darkness of human nature and the fragile veneer of civilisation.

Golding's experiences as a schoolteacher and his service in World War II, witnessing the horrors of human brutality, heavily influenced his writing and his perspective on human nature.

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