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


Nobel Prize for Literature

In 1983, Golding was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

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Reverend Colley

Reverend Robert James Colley appears in the first book of Golding’s Sea Trilogy, Rites of Passage, and is often mentioned in the following two volumes. He […]

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The Booker Prize 1980

On 21st October 1980, forty years ago today, William Golding was awarded the Booker Prize for Rites of Passage. Golding was 69 and until 2019, […]