Maybe this will change now the BBC has filmed his trilogy, To The Ends of the Earth.
Set on board a clapped-out man-of-war turned emigrant ship at the close of the Napoleonic era, To the Ends of the Earth is a bracing riposte to the Hornblower mythos. The cabins drip, the bilges stink and the sailors are into buggery. The characters are all flawed in unlikeable ways. The hero is callow, arrogant, snooty and unfeeling.
The film gives us the creased uniforms and sweaty faces but misses out on Golding's poetic intensity. It's less visual than the book, less cinematic. We get lots of reading aloud from journals but only odd, perfunctory glimpses of sea and sky. The book deals with sex, class and the romantic imagination; the film deals with sex and class.
I'll watch the next two episodes. But what I really want to do right now is go out and buy the novels.