William Golding, the author of Lord of the Flies, once tried to rape a 15-year-old girl, according to unpublished memoirs offering an insight into what he called his "monstrous" character.
Golding admitted attacking a girl named Dora when home from his first year at Oxford. The pair met when he was 16 and Dora 13 while taking music lessons in Marlborough, Wiltshire. The later-Nobel Prize winner described how he and Dora went for a walk and he had "felt sure she wanted heavy sex, as this was visibly written on her pert, ripe and desirable mouth".
He said the pair wrestled as he tried to have sex with her and she resisted. Golding shouted: "I'm not going to hurt you." His intended victim fled. The author later wrote that "he had made such a bad hand at rape".
Two years after the incident, the pair consummated their relationship. Dora subsequently persuaded Golding's father to use binoculars to spy on them having sex in the open air. The revelation will appear in a new biography by John Carey, the emeritus professor of English literature at Oxford, who was given access to Golding's archive. The memoirs, written for his wife Ann, were an attempt to explain how his character had developed.
According to his biographer, the tortured novelist "was aware of and repelled by the cruelty in himself and was given to saying that, had he been born in Hitler's Germany, he would have been a Nazi".
During his time as a school teacher, Golding stirred antagonism and set gangs of boys against one another – what he termed "a certain measure of experimental science" in his teaching – to observe what happened when they were given total liberty. On one field trip near Salisbury, Golding separated his class into two gangs, one to attack a neolithic enclosure, the other to defend it.