Nobel Prize-winning author Sir William Golding, whose novel “Lord of the Flies” won acclaim for its chilling story of the descent of marooned schoolboys into barbarism, died June 19. He was 81.

Matthew Evans, chairman of Faber & Faber, Golding’s publisher, said the likely cause of death was a heart attack.

The writer died at his home in Perranarworthal, near Falmouth in southern England.

Golding won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1983 and was knighted five years ago. His novels have been reprinted many times and are required reading at many colleges and schools.

Golding suffered a string of rejections before “Lord of the Flies,” his first work, was published in 1954. The tale is about a group of boys who survive the crash-landing of an airplane and are forced to live on an uninhabited island, where they split into different tribes and begin fighting one another. Peter Brook directed a 1963 film adaptation of the book; Harry Hook did a 1990 version.

“Flies” was followed by 11 other novels, including “The Inheritors” (1955), “Free Fall” (1959), and “Rights of Passage” (1980).

Born in Cornwall Sept. 19, 1911, Golding studied science and then English at Oxford University.

In a tribute Saturday, author Malcolm Bradbury described Golding’s work as “peculiarly timeless” and said it provides a powerful comment on human nature.

But novelist and critic Anthony Burgess said Saturday that “Lord of the Flies” was “based on a false premise — that the human soul is naturally evil and tends to commit evil acts, without allowing the other side of the psyche, the good, to interfere.”

Golding is survived by his wife, Ann, a son and a daughter.

Funeral arrangements were not announced.