The author, William Golding, was hounded by a strong sense of class-consciousness throughout his life. The son of a public school teacher, he grew up in a lower middle class neighbourhood, where he had to walk past a private boys’ school each day on his way to school. According to his biographer, John Carey, “That feeling was like a wound.”
Even after going up to Oxford, that same sense of envy stayed with Golding; the university was chock full of wealthy young gentlemen—students just like the boys from that private boys’ school. During a particularly painful interview, an Oxford master described him as, “not quite a gentleman.”
Golding survived, of course, and after serving in the Royal Navy during World War 2, he wrote a number of novels, with “Lord of the Flies” widely recognized as his masterpiece. But his work is dark, and I can’t help but wonder how life might have been different if that boys’ school had made room for a public school teacher’s son. I wonder, too, about the boy who walks by Lonsdale Road these days and looks up at the Rogers’ Clock Tower with something less than awe.