What a man does defiles him, not what is done by others …

Rites of Passage

Rites of Passage is the first book in Golding’s ‘A Sea Trilogy’.

Sailing to Australia in the early years of the nineteenth century, Edmund Talbot keeps a journal to amuse his godfather back in England. Full of wit and disdain, he records the mounting tensions on the ancient warship, where officers, sailors, soldiers and emigrants jostle in the crammed spaces below decks.

Then a single passenger, the obsequious Reverend Colley, attracts the animosity of the sailors, and in the seclusion of the fo’castle something happens to bring him into a ‘hell of self-degradation’, where shame is a force deadlier than the sea itself.

Rites of Passage won the Booker Prize in 1980.

Judy sets the scene for the epic voyage to Australia

Listen to Judy Golding discussing Rites of Passage

View Judy Golding introducing Rites of Passage


Booker Prize

In 1980, Golding was awarded the Booker Prize for Rites of Passage. Other books nominated that year were Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers; Anita Desai, Clear Light of Day; […]

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Social class

The theme of social class, and its effects, appears in many of Golding’s novels, including ‘The Sea Trilogy’ and Lord of the Flies.

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Golding’s Trojan War

This is a guest post by Arabella Currie. Arabella is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Exeter, researching Golding’s engagement with Classics. […]