'My yesterdays walk with me. They keep step, they are grey faces that peer over my shoulder'.

Free Fall

Sammy Mountjoy is swept into World War II and somehow, somewhere,  he loses his freedom, the faculty of freewill ‘that cannot be debated but only experienced, like a colour or the taste of potatoes’. As he retraces his life in an effort to discover why he no longer has the power to choose and decide for himself, the narrative moves between England and a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany. He begins to realise what man can be and what he has gradually made of himself through his own choices. But did those accumulated choices also begin to deprive him of his free will?

Free Fall is an inquiry into some of the deepest human questions, but it also recreates a particular time and place – the sexually repressed, class-bound England of the thirties, moving uncertainly towards war – and the life of a particular human being, a fictive hybrid that includes much of the author himself’. – John Gray

'I set out to write a patternless novel'.

Listen to William Golding discussing Free Fall

View Judy Golding introducing Free Fall


End of teaching career

Shortly after the publication of Free Fall, Golding was finally able to give up his job as a teacher at Bishop Wordsworth’s School, Salisbury, due to […]

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Nick Shales

Nick Shales appears in the final part of Free Fall in a memory from the protagonist Sammy Mountjoy. According to Sammy, Shales was ‘the best teacher I […]

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Horror in William Golding’s writing

William Golding’s novels are scary. There are moments of sheer terror across many of his books but this terror does not come from the supernatural […]