Lord of the Flies | Study Guide

William Golding

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Author Biography

Learn more about William Golding’s life and the personal experiences that inspired his novel Lord of the Flies in Course Hero’s video study guide.

William Golding | Biography


William Golding was born in Cornwall, England, on September 19, 1911. His mother was a suffragette, and his father was schoolmaster at Marlborough Grammar School, which Golding attended.

Golding began writing at age 7 and attempted his first novel at age 12. As a child, Golding could be a bully, and he is known to have hurt the other children.

When Golding enrolled in Brasenose College, Oxford, his parents encouraged him to take up the sciences. Golding did so but changed his focus to English literature after two years. He published his first book—a volume of poetry—while still in college.

Golding worked a number of jobs after college before following in his father's footsteps and becoming a teacher and later a schoolmaster. Working with boys gave Golding the insight and inspiration that ultimately led to Lord of the Flies.

By 1940 Golding was married and a schoolmaster. However, he enlisted in the Royal Navy and fought in World War II. Golding spent the next six years on a boat and developed a love for sailing and the sea. He was involved in a number of missions and was appointed a lieutenant. When the war ended, Golding returned to teaching and writing.

In 1953 Golding wrote Lord of the Flies. The novel was finally published in 1954 after being rejected 21 times by publishers. It received mixed reviews upon release and sold poorly. At one point Lord of the Flies flopped and went out of print in the United States, though it remained in print in the United Kingdom. Lord of the Flies had a revival when the paperback version was published in 1959. Today, the novel is considered a classic and shows up regularly on school reading lists.

Golding wrote 13 novels, as well as poetry, plays, essays, and short stories. His writing earned him the 1983 Nobel Prize in Literature, and he was knighted in 1988.

Golding died on June 19, 1993, in his native Cornwall.

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