In the icy desolation of the North Atlantic, senseless with cold and shock, Christopher Hadley Martin, temporary lieutenant, is drowning. Then, unbelievably, out of the mirk looms a grotesque shape, larger than any ship. When he has hauled himself on to it and come to his senses a bit, Martin realizes where he must be: on that rock projecting from the sea-bed which appears only on weather charts. To drink there is a pool of rainwater; to eat there are weed and sea-anemones; to talk to there is himself. And through the long hours of sleep, dreams and terror, there is the truth must be assembled, piece by appalling piece
William Golding was born in Cornwall in 1911 and was educated at Marlborough Grammar School and at Brasenose College, Oxford. Before he became a schoolmaster he was an actor, a lecturer, a small-boat sailor and a musician. A now rare volume, Poems, appeared in 1934. In 1940 he joined the Royal Navy and saw action against battleships, submarines and aircraft. He was present at the sinking of the Bismarck. He finished the war as a Lieutenant in command of a rocket ship, which was off the French coast for the D-day invasion, and later at the island of Welcheren. After the war he returned to Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury and was there when his first novel, Lord of the Flies, was published in 1954. He gave up teaching in 1961.
Lord of the Flies was filmed by Peter Brook in 1963. Golding listed his hobbies as music, chess, sailing, archaeology and classical Greek (which he taught himself). Many of these subjects appear in his essay collections The Hot Gates and A Moving Target. He won the Booker Prize for his novel Rites of Passage in 1980, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983. He was knighted in 1988. He died at his home in the summer of 1993. The Double Tongue, a novel left in draft at his death, was published in June 1995.