'Aren’t there any grownups at all?'
'I don’t think so'.

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies has entered the culture. Ralph, Jack and Piggy are archetypes of human fallibility, but most of all they are real characters, fully imagined and leaping to life off the page.

First published in 1954, this classic novel has sold millions of copies worldwide (more than 25 million in English alone). It has been translated into all the major languages, and many minority ones (Georgian, Basque, Catalan). It has been adapted for radio, made into two films, dramatised for the stage by Nigel Williams and in an innovative ballet by Matthew Bourne.

Lord of the Flies has reached the status of a cultural referent that does not need to be named: the conch has been used as a symbol for explaining things as diverse as internet protocols and voting structures; Piggy’s spectacles and physique have become a recognisable icon. What is more, any gathering of active, unruly children is likely to be described as ‘like something out of Lord of the Flies.’

The power of Golding’s tragedy has had such effect that the novel risks being oversimplified by its own legend. But a re-reading of the novel will always sweep one back to the freshness and vividness of the text, the characters remaining real children, and the tragedy continuing to be unbearable. The extraordinary beauty of Golding’s coral island and the poignancy of his characters’ youth and vulnerability produce an experience of unique and perpetually surprising intensity.

The fair boy was peering at the reef through screwed-up eyes.

'All them other kids', the fat boy went on. 'Some of them must have got out. They must have, mustn’t they?'

Listen to Martin Jarvis reading an extract from the book

Overview of the book with the author


1954 : As Lord of the Flies was being written…

In 1951 Golding was living in Salisbury with his wife Ann, and two children, David and Judy. Golding and Ann read to their children and […]

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The battle between civilisation and savagery is represented in a number of Golding’s novels, most famously in Lord of the Flies and The Inheritors.

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