The book, originally entitled Strangers From Within, was initially rejected by a reader at publishers Faber and Faber as "Rubbish & dull. Pointless". The title was considered "too abstract and too explicit". Following a further review, the book was eventually published as Lord of the Flies.
In February 1960, Floyd C. Gale of Galaxy Science Fiction rated Lord of the Flies five stars out of five, stating that "Golding paints a truly terrifying picture of the decay of a minuscule society ... Well on its way to becoming a modern classic".
In his book Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong (first edition, 2006, page 252), Marc D. Hauser says the following about William Golding's Lord of the Flies: 'This riveting fiction, standard reading in most intro courses to English literature, should be standard reading in biology, economics, psychology, and philosophy.'
- Its stances on the already controversial subjects of human nature and individual welfare versus the common good earned it position 68 on the American Library Association's list of the 100 most frequently challenged books of 1900–1999.
- It was awarded a place on both lists of Modern Library 100 Best Novels, reaching number 41 on the editor's list, and 25 on the reader's list.
- In 2003, the novel was listed at number 70 on the BBC's survey The Big Read.
- In 2005, the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.