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William Golding was born in Cornwall in 1911. Before he became a schoolmaster he was an actor, a lecturer, a small-boat sailor and a musician. His first novel, Lord of the Flies, was published in 1954 and was filmed by Peter Brook in 1963. He won the Booker Prize for his novel Rites of Passage in 1980, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983. He was knighted in 1988. He died at his home in the summer of 1993.
Dean Jocelin has a vision: that God has chosen him to erect a great spire on his cathedral. His mason anxiously advises against it, for the old cathedral was built without foundations. Nevertheless, the spire rises octagon upon octagon, pinnacle by pinnacle, until the stone pillars shriek and the ground beneath it swims. Its shadow falls ever darker on the world below, and on Dean Jocelin in particular.