William Golding, By John Carey

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The Independent Culture

Golding may have been pursued by demons in life, ranging from alcoholism to a devastating loss of confidence when his leisure boat was sunk by a freighter, but he struck lucky post-mortem.

It is hard to imagine how this detailed but absorbing biography could be bettered. Carey not only applies his laser-like critical eye to the novels, but also utilises a massive amount of Golding's unpublished writing.

A 5,000 page journal detailing both the novelist's daily progress and dreams must have been a daunting hoard.

Carey deftly explores Golding's remarkable canon: he daily viewed the repairs to Salisbury cathedral that inspired The Spire; the homosexuality he observed while a wartime seaman fed into his masterpiece Rites of Passage.