Nobel Laureate Sir William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, admits in his private paper that when he was 18 he tried to rape a 15 year old girl. But that's not all. A teacher, he deliberately set groups of boys against each other just to see how far they would go and if they would get violent. It was kind of like a lab experiment that turned into Lord of the Flies. Golding kept a journal which he left to John Carey, the emeritus professor of English literature at Oxford, to be used posthumously. Now Carey is publishing his biography of Goldman. From here on out, all anyone is going to remember about it is that Golding was an attempted rapist. And a sadist, don't forget that.
The book also draws on an unpublished memoir written by Golding for his wife, Ann, who died in 1995 and is buried beside him at Salisbury, Wiltshire. The couple were married for 54 years, and Golding felt the honesty of his account would explain what he described as the "monstrous" side of his character.
The memoir, entitled Men and Women Now, makes no attempt to hide the author's regular dependence on drink to fight his demons. He was also explicit about problems with his parents, and suggested that the girl he tried to rape had later plotted to get his father, a grammar school teacher in Marlborough, to watch them having sex in a field through binoculars. Carey outlined his findings in the Sunday Times, for which he is the chief reviewer, in advance of extracts from the biography which will be published next week.
The attempted rape involved a Marlborough girl, named Dora, who had taken piano lessons with Golding. It happened when he was 18 and on holiday during his first year at Oxford. Carey quotes the memoir as partially excusing the attempted rape on the grounds that Dora was "depraved by nature" and, at 14, was "already sexy as an ape". It reveals that Golding told his wife he had been sure the girl "wanted heavy sex". She fought him off and ran away as he stood there shouting: "I'm not going to hurt you," the memoir said.
How absolutely appalling. And there are much worse details to come, we understand. Goldman said he was a monster and we shall take him at his word.