William Golding was born in Cornwall in 1911. He was educated at Marlborough Grammar School and at Brasenose College, Oxford, after which he worked as an actor, a lecturer, a small craft sailor, a musician, and finally a school-master. He joined the Royal Navy in 1940 and saw action against battleships, submarines and aircraft. He was present at the sinking of the Bismarck, and finished the war as a Lieutenant in command of a rocket ship. After the war he returned to Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury and it was there when his first novel, Lord of the Flies, was published in 1954. He gave up teaching in 1961 and went on to write 12 more novels, including The Inheritors, Pincher Martin, and The Spire.
Golding's play The Brass Butterfly was produced at the New Theatre, Oxford in 1958, directed by Alistair Sim. 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 two collections of essays, 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, leaving a draft of a novel, The Double Tongue, which was published posthumously.