William Golding’s win was shaded by Anthony Burgess stating that he wouldn’t attend the ceremony unless he knew in advance that he had won. The judges refused to be swayed.

Golding’s Rites of Passage, the first part of his To the Ends of the Earth trilogy, won the Booker Prize fully 26 years after Lord of the Flies had made the author a household name and the text had become a school staple. His winning novel tells the story of goings-on on board a migrant ship to Australia in the 19th century and it too discussed mankind’s innate bestiality.

As Golding stepped up to collect the award in London, Burgess was busy across town, drowning his sorrows in the Savoy Hotel.

William Golding
Published by
Faber & Faber
The first book of William Golding’s Sea Trilogy is a haunting account of an epic sea journey, which profoundly affects all those who set sail on it.

The Shortlist

Rites of Passage
Prize winner
Earthly Powers
Clear Light of Day
The Beggar Maid
Pascali's Island
A Month in the Country

The 1980 judges