William Gerald Golding was born on September 19, 1911, in St. Columb Minor in Cornwall, England. His father was an extremely well-educated schoolmaster, and his mother was a strong-minded suffragette. Golding grew up in the family home at Marlborough. When he left to enter Brasenose College, Oxford, he had planned to study science, but he later decided to study English literature instead. After graduating, he worked for a while in a London theater group, writing, acting, and producing. In 1939, however, he married and then followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a schoolmaster at Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury. He left Bishop Wordsworth’s to serve in the Royal Navy during World War II. He saw action at sea as a lieutenant on a rocket launcher and was very affected by seeing the violence of which people were capable. He returned to the school in 1945 and taught there until 1961.
As a child, Golding had been fascinated with words, and as an adult he tried his hand at writing, but with little early success. A small volume, Poems (1934), was published when he was twenty-three, but Golding decided he was not a poet. During the early years of his teaching career, he wrote several novels that he himself described as being too derivative, too much like works that had already been written. Publishers were not interested in these works, either. Trying a new tactic, Golding wrote Lord of the Flies (1954). For this novel, he adopted an unusual perspective that he then altered at the end, and he used his experience with small boys to explore the dark side of humanity, which the war had brought to his attention. This time, Golding was more pleased with his efforts, but twenty-one...
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