William Golding, Literary Archive

Scope and Content

The collection consists of notebooks, manuscript and typescript drafts of Golding's novels up to 1989

Rough item list as follows:

1. Manuscript notebook 'Lord of the Flies', green hardback notebook with front cover missing (Bishop Wordsworth's School, 90 leaves (including leaf attached to rear cover). Includes extensive annotations and almost all of the pages are struck through with a vertical line. Dated 2 October 1952. Exceptionally fragile, requires assistance to handle (WG E 23)

2. Typescript 'Lord of the Flies'. Held in brown card 'Loxon Loose-Leaf Note book' cover with white label stuck on it and labelled in ts 'This Island's Mine'. William Golding'. 196 pages including pencil emendations by Charles Monteith and William Golding. Also includes instructions to printer (WG E 25)

3. Manuscript 'The Inheritors', green hardback notebook, Bishop Wordsworth's School label, 98 leaves. Text in red ballpoint pen and includes maps in red ballpoint pen. Also includes notes in red ballpoint pen, blue ballpoint pen and pencil. Also cotnains notes on Envoy Extraordinary and draft poems (WG E 47)

4. Typescript 'The Inheritors', plus three poems. TS 181 leaves. Includes annotations and instructions to printer by Charles Monteith. The annotations are consistent with the ts being the setting copy. Poems are entitled 'Words for a sensitive juryman', 'Pas Seul', 'European Night - 1947'. (WG E 48)

5. Typescript 'The Spire' (typed by William Golding) 141 pages (WG E 24)

6. Typescript 'The Spire by William Golding' (possibly professionally typed) 214 pages plus title page (WG E 30)

7. Typescript 'The Spire', carbon copy of WG E 30. 214 pages plus title (WG E 7)

8. Typescript 'The Spire' (typed by William Golding) v. poor and fragile condition with several pages missing (WG E 3)

9. Typewritten leaves for 'The Spire', first page headed 'Barchester Spire', possibly pages removed from a specific early version of The Spire. 34 pages (WG E 4)

10. Manuscript notes by William Golding re: 'The Spire' (single page). (WG E 19).

11. Typewritten single page from early 'Barchester Spire' (typed by William Golding). (WG E 20)

12. Typewritten pages from various versions of 'The Spire' typed by William Golding. 268 pages of mostly 'The Spire' plus 37 pages of essays. Fragile with historic pest damage. (WG E 1)

13. Manuscript Notebook, grey. 60 leaves plus end papers. Contains 'An Erection at Barchester First Draft'. First draft plus notes then ? second draft and version of final passage. Also includes notes on essays and notes for Greek. Some notes re 'The Pyramid' and Bounce - a character in 'The Pyramid'. (WG E 17).

(14. - 16 as below) Manuscript Notebooks (all Bishop Wordsworth's School labels) containing notes on various works and over a considerable length of time (c.1958-c.1967). 2 green, 1 buff.

3 items

14. Green notebook contains notes on 'The Pyramid', notes concerning Tenace (yacht). At end (reversed) draft of 'Egypt from my Inside', also brief notes for 'The Spire'.

15. Green notebook contains notes on 'The Spire', lists for sailing and other lists, notes for essays, chess game, possibly also notes for 'Pincher Martin' for a film.

16. Buff notebook contains possible notes for a novel, brief notes for 'Envoy Extraordinary', a poem, notes on historical novels for children, inventory of furniture, notes concerning 'Pincher Martin', notes for novel 'The Bird of Paradise, early version of 'Darkness Visible'. Also notes inside back cover including a to do list. (WG E 49)

17. Manuscript Notebook with brown paper, 'Bishop Wordsworth's School label. Some leaves torn out. 48 leaves. Contents include notes on money, note to ring the headmaster of Bishop Wordsworth School. Also contains notes re: essays including 'The Spire', a poem, notes for essays on Homer, American Food, Crosses and some sketches, schemes and ideas for 'The Spire'. Also notes (possibly later) additions to Essays, posssibly for 'Hot Gates'. Includes text in Greek and notes on Chess moves. (WG E 6)

18. Manuscript Notebook, green cover, Bishop Wordsworth's School label. 98 leaves. Includes 'Barchester Spire' story about collapse of a spire during a school service, notes re Jocelin, notes re essay, Crosses, (occuring in several parts of the notebook) notes, For want of a Nail, Thinking as a Hobby, a list for a journey, including 'MS of Barchester Spire'. Also includes a draft of an unfinished story about a man sharing a taxi. Last page contains list of things to do. (WG E 2)

19. Manuscript notebook, blue with red spine. 90 leaves including endpapers. Contains notes on Bounce, Henry, (characters in 'The Pyramid') houses on the Green, Marlborough, notes for Australia, essays , Rough Magic, Gaia Lives, Europe's Inner Voices, other notes. Then, starting from the back, drafts of Niki/In Search of My Father, notes re Telegonus and Odysseus. (WG E 56)

20. Typescript of first story of 'The Pyramid'. 47 leaves plus title page. Title page 'Midsummer's Eve by (William Golding) (First draft; 22500 words)'. (WG E 22)

21. Typescript of third story from 'The Pyramid'. Includes some ms additions and notes. Many differences from published version. (WG E 12)

22. Typewritten pages, text of 'The Pyramid'. Includes inserts on 2 pieces of paper to page 63. Includes original buff cover with titles in William Golding's hand. Also includes additional papers showing signs of pest damage about Salsibury, a possibly parody of Eliot, 'Family Reunion' and other poems including 'Words for a sensitive Householder' which became 'Lines for a sensitive juryman'. Also four typed pages of sequel to 'Alcestis' entitled 'After the Last Act'. (WG E 9)

23. Manuscript Notebook, red hardback. Contains draft of Bounce. Dates at end of draft 25/22/64. Maps of Stilbourne plus notes with comments noted from Ann Golding. Notes also on 'Pincher Martin' and dialogue possibly for film adaptation. Essay re The Pugwash boys, conferences re: arms limitation. Also poems, essay The Human Condition, notes and diagrams for The Jam and list of people Golding knew. Book refersed with notes at rear on French, Modern Greek (with corrections by someone else) and more material for The Jam. (WG E 50)

24. Manuscript Notebook, green, Bishop Wordsworth's School label. 96 leaves. Contains notes re Homeric ships, essay on nakedness in Greek civilisation, Greek text. Includes a page on The Inheritors, two drafts of 'Envoy Extraordinary' and notes for dramatizing it. Also contains a summary of income for 1957/8, more notes re 'Envoy Extraordinary' and possible notes on school pupils. Back cover contains a list of publishers and an agent who where sent 'Lord of the Flies' up to and including Faber. Includes precise dates 'Accepted for publication 12/2/54). (WG E 54)

25. Manuscript Notebook, red hardback. 75 leaves. Contents include notes and drafts on Darkness Visible, Script of 'P.M.' - 'Pincher Martin', possibly P Brook script or Patrick Bayle. Notes for Jam, for Rouen lecture and for several reviews: 'Crabbed Age and Youth' (pub 30 Nov 1975), review of book by Dorothy Stroud on Capability Brown (published 21 Jun 1975), book on Alive! about the aftermath of plane crash in the Andes (pub 27 Sept 1975). Page of notes by MAG (Golding's wife) on Darkness Visible draft. Manetion of the end of the Spire gong 'too far'. (WG E 5)

(26-27 as below)

2 items

26. Photostat Typescript of a radio play entitled 'Break My Heart', from BBC archives annotated, many deletions, possibly professional. 50 sheets. Items of dialogue numbered in sequece. Produced by Nesta Pain, plus various details on broadcast and rehearsal times. The play deals with life in a boys' school where a boy gets into trouble for refusing to learn by heart the speech from Hamlet about Hamlet's adultery with Claudius. Some details may have been taken from 'Short Measure' an unpublished novel by Golding, written before 'Lord of the Flies'. Draws on Golding's experiences as a teacher at Bishop Wordsworth's School. One interchange (cut) may describe Golding himself (p.31).

27. Photostat Typescript of unknown origin, 1960s or 1970s. 30 sheets. Stage adapatation of 'Lord of the Flies'. The boys in the script are Australian and some fo the language is Australian dialect. There is no other indication of the provennance of this script and no ms annotations by Golding. (WG E 8)

(28-29 as below)

2 Items

28. Typescript containing part of the story Clonk Clonk. 18 sheets, with sheets from the original ms missing.. Two title pages and two epigraph pages at the beginning. Clonk Clonk from 'The Scorpion God and Other Stories', (p ub 25 oct 1971). Contains annotations in Golding's hand. NOTE: p.51 extremely fragile containing an addition affixed with adhesive tape.

29. Typescript containing 49 pages (originally 51 but two were removed and placed with WG E 21(2) on deposit, as these were clearly from that typescript). Contains a fairly clean copy of The Scorpian God with annotations by Golding in ball point pen, also some annotations in pencil, possibly by Charles Monteith. TS dates to before July 1967. (WG E 11)

30. Manuscript Notebook, blue card covers. 50 leaves. First five leaves are written in Golding's hand entitled 'Here be Monsters'. Remaining leaves blank. Date unknown, possibly 1975. Contains notes that may be ideas towards 'Darkness Visible'. Notes on monsters and how they may be created, a story by James Lovelock of the meteor crashing into the sun, which Golding wrote an account of in Oct 1975, plus notes on time for birds, time for creatures, time for humans, solar time, astronomical time. (Golding's journal contains two references to Here Be Monsters, one dated 6 Apr 1977 and the other 27 Oct 1978, which notes 'This morning I finished an advanced draft of Here be Monsters, packed it up and sent it to Charles (Monteith) by registered letter post... This may suggest it was a draft of 'Darkness Visible'. (WG E 16)

(31-32 as below)

2 items

31. Single typed page from draft 'Egypt from My Outside' (Moving Target pp 56-83), which is edited and redrafted from Golding's Journal, February 1976. No ms annotations, probably typed by Golding.

32. Typescript. 1st sequence has pages numbered on the reverse and many ms annotations in Golding's hand. Contains an entire draft of 'Clonk Clonk'. Second sequence of typed pages in a different type has the first three pages missing, then pages 4-41 after which the end is missing. An incomplete, possibly later, text of 'Clonk Clonk' incorporating ms alterations in the other text. Some alterations in Golding's hand, others are possibly by a professional editor. (WG E 18).

(33-34 as below)

2 items

33. Typescript. 13 sheets. Contains the opening scene of a play 'The Powers that Be'. Contains dialogue concerning the relationship between a mayor, a newspaper and its editor. Also contains character called Miss Pulkinhorn, but not the same as the character of that name in his short story published in 'Encounter', nor the radio play broadcast 20 April 1960. No clear indication of date but this may have preceded the other Miss Pulkinhorn.

34. Typescript. 86 sheets. The whole of the story 'The Scropion God', possibly professionally typed and reunited with pages from WG E 11 on deposit. Contains a very small number of ms annotations in pencil, not in Golding's hand. (WG E 21)

35. Manuscript Notebook, green, Bishop Wordsworth's School label. 96 leaves, some blank. Back cover contains a diagram of a circle in a square with a formula - possibly relating to 'The Spire'? Contains draft of unfinished story about a woman called Debbie. A list of 'Long Shorts' including 'B. Spire' (Fall of) and 'Egyptian One' (possibly 'Scorpion God'). Also drafts of 'Scorpion God' and references to book 'E.B.' (about Egypt). Also a digest of 'Scorpion God' and a diagram and map. Includes draft notes on Fable v Myth, then notes on particular novels. Also notes for what may be an early version of 'Paper Men' and calculations. (WG E 29)

36. Manuscript Notebook, green, Bishop Wordsworth's School label, title on front cover in Golding's hand 'Wild Rose Notes'. 96 leaves (leaf 63 torn out). All in Golding's hand in ink and pencil; includes several drawings. Contains the following: story of Aristodemus; poems or dialogue in verse; notes and diagrams for 'Wild Rose', suggesting date of 1957; Aristotle; Euripides in Macedonia; 'Free Fall' including note of 'Burstine with a white hosanna'; ms draft of 'The Powers That Be'; Telegonus/Niki, plan for Free Fall; plan of 'Through Dutch Waterways'; piece re: 'A; (?Adam Bittleston?); Bishop Wordsworth's School class lists; theatre scenery designs. (WG E 46).

37. Manuscript Notebook, red hardback. 70 leaves, including a loose leaf and a detached leaf. Leaf 37 has been torn out. Almost entirely in Golding's hand with the exception of an address and a note by 'MAG', Golding's wife Ann. First 35 leaves contain 'Men Women & Now'; Georgian address (not Golding's hand) and notes re: Russia. Also notes on 'Captain Shakespear' which was reviewed by Golding in The Guardian on 9 May 1976. Followed by paes of notes, plans, diagrams, chronologies etc for 'Darkness Visible' (pub 1979). Some passages of Matty's jouirnal from that book. Also includes comments by MAG (Ann Golding) re: 'Darkness Visible' and list of Golding of 'Ann's comments'. Rear of notebook contains Greek exercises, some notes on the New Testament story, parody letter from academic at 'Ashcan'. Notes re: Russia and British authors in USSR. (WG E 51).

38. Manuscript Notebook, green, Bishop Wordsworth's School label, title on front cover in Golding's hand 'The Vertical'. 98 leaves. Entirely in Golding's hand. Some pages are dated. Contains story of world saved, which may turn into what follows - a story about Manderson, an early version of Pedigree in 'Darkness Visible'. Also, early plan for 'The Scorpion God', pencil notes which may be for 'Break My Heart'; plans, detailed scheme, drafts and analyses for for 'Pincher Martin', also early references to key phrases or moments; title Pincher Martin and plans to do list and Addenda (indicates 'Pincher Martin' was written between mid October 1955 and publication date of 26 October 1956. Also contains 'Thinking as a Hobby; Alcestis; more notes on 'Pincher Martin'; 'The Powers that Be'; school notes; essay topics; ideas for novel including 'Barchester Spire'; 'Euripides'; account of Wild Rose storm (which happened in 1956) as play; A Tree in Winter (Euripides); some items related to school work. (WG E 55).

39. Materials, manuscript and typescript, relating to 'Darkness Visible' containing much material not included in the final form of the book, including summaries, characters story of Sophy. Includes many ms notes and a part manuscript with pages 1-63. See also WG E 26, which appears to follow on from the manuscript in this bundle. Ask at Special Collections for a detailed description. (WG E 27).

40. Manuscript of 'Darkness Visible' in Golding's hand in blue ball point pen. Opens at page 64-220 and presumably continues manuscript in WG E 27. Includes some corrections and changes. Also includes the provisional title of 'Search' and manuscript summaries of chapters I-XVIII. (WG E 26).

41. Typescript of 'Darkness Visible'. Extensive marking up for printer by copy editor. Relates to WG E 38 in that the typescript probably provides an explanation for the bundles in WG E 38. (WG E 28).

42. Typescripts (2 main bundles divided into sections) almost all related to 'Darkness Visible'. also includes letter to Charles Monteith of Faber and MS notes by Monteith on draft of novel. Pages are in groups but the order is confused throughout. Please ask at Special Collections for a list giving the order. (WG E 38).

43. Photocopied typescript of 'Darkness Visible', also an envelope postmarked 28 December 1978 which may or may not have been related to the ts originally. Includes instructions and labels from the copy editor and Golding. Possibly sent to Golding for final scrutiny prior to transfer to setting copy. (WG E 10).

44. Manuscript Notebook, red, with label covering an older partially torn label. Title in Golding's hand 'Rites' ('Rites of Passage'). Includes research on navy and the story that was the source for Rites, notes on Cathedrals and Delphi. Also includes 'Wanted on the Journey' and diary about life aboard Tenace dating July 1966. Also includes notes, possibly about Arthur Ransome, ms draft for Rites, two pages of Greek writing and lists for Tenace. Includes a few notes by MAG (Ann Golding). 72 leaves. (WG E 14).

45. Manuscript Notebook, dark blue. Contains label with title 'Rites' in WG's Golding's hand. Early manuscript draft for 'Rites of Passage' including summary of chapters and 'Schema of second draft', followed by detailed comments and suggestions. 80 leaves (WG E 13).

46. Manuscript Notebook, blue-grey A5 size. Contains notes, some in Golding's hand and some in MAG's hand (Ann Golding). includes digest of second draft of Rites of Passage, notes on French, list of clothes to pack. Inside back cover is a label written by David Golding (Golding's son) relating to an exhibition at Penryn Campus in 2007. 79 surviving leaves. (WG E 57).

47. Typescript, probably typed by Golding, for 'Rites of Passage', second draft. Includes title page and emendations by Golding and copy editor. (WG E 15)

48. Photocopied typescript, third draft of 'Rites of Passage' with text in Golding's hand 'Final Version'. Includes photocopied manuscript additions and some original manuscript additions in blue. Possibly a copy sent to Golding for final revisions prior to transfer to a setting copy. (WG E 37)

49. Typescript for 'Rites of Passage', possibly the setting copy . Includes many instructions to printer, some in the hand of the copy editor and some in an unknown hand. Also contains some changes by Golding and many changes by the copy editor. (note, some pages are very fragile with sellotaped insets, also a scrap of blue paper and a small piece of blue papers stuck on p. 119). (WG E 42).

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir William Gerald Golding (1911-1993), novelist, was born in Newquay, Cornwall at his grandmother's house. He was educated at Marlborough Grammar School, where his father taught and Brasenose College, Oxford, reading natural science before transferring to English Literature. In 1934 he published a small volume, 'Poems', in Macmillan's Contemporary Poets Series.

He moved to London in 1935, working as a writer, actor and producer for a small, non-commercial theatre before taking up teaching in 1939 when he married and had a family. At this time he was also involved in adult education, teaching in army camps and Maidstone gaol.

During the World War II he served in the Royal Navy, firstly working in a weapons research unit where he was injured, then trained to bring mine-sweepers from New York. He later commanded a landing craft equipped with rocket guns, taking part in the D-day landings and the invasion of Walcheren.

He returned to writing and teaching after the war. 'Lord of the flies', his first and best known novel, was not published until 1954 by Faber and Faber, after being rejected by 21 publishers and changes to the text. It was an immediate success.

Golding wrote 12 novels, many essays and reviews, poems, short stories and a travel book about Egypt. 'The Inheritors' (1955) was followed 'Pincher Martin' (1956), 'The Brass Butterfly' (a play, 1958), 'Free Fall' (1959), 'The Spire' (1964) and 'The Hot Gates' (1965), a collection of essays and reviews.

Golding's other novels are: 'The Pyramid' (1967), The Scorpion God' (three novellas, 1971), Darkness Visible' (1979), 'Rites of Passage' (1980) which won the Booker Prize, and is the first book of the trilogy 'To the Ends of the Earth', 'The Paper Men' (1984) and 'The Double Tongue' (1995).

In 1961, he was able to resign as a school teacher and in 1983 was awarded the Nobel prize for literature. Golding died in 1993 at his home in Perranarworthal, near Truro.


The items are currently in the arrangement received at University of Exeter.

Access Information

Some items may require assistance with handling, due to fragility of the material.

Acquisition Information


Other Finding Aids

See list above. Some additional information available. Full description is under construction.

Archivist's Note

Box listed by Christine Faunch, Head of Heritage Collections, Oct 2014 from detailed descriptions supplied by Judy Carver. Additional material added by Christine Faunch, Head of Heritage Collections, 20 Nov 2014. Updated with additional entries by C Faunch, Head of Heritage Collections, 10 Dec 2014; 25 Mar 2015. All permitted copies must contain a notice saying that the copies are the property of Judith Carver and William Golding Litd

Conditions Governing Use


Custodial History

The archive has remained with the Golding family until deposit