Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman

Infobox Writer
name = Philip Pullman

birthdate = Birth date and age|1946|10|19
birthplace = Norwich, Norfolk, UK
deathdate =
deathplace =
occupation = Novelist
genre = Fantasy
movement =
notableworks = "His Dark Materials" trilogy
influences = John Milton
influenced =
website =

Philip Pullman CBE (born October 19, 1946) is an English writer. He is the best-selling author of "His Dark Materials", a trilogy of fantasy novels, and a number of other books.


Pullman was born in Norwich, Norfolk, UK, to Royal Air Force pilot Alfred Outram Pullman and Audrey Evelyn Outram née Merrifield. The family travelled with his father's job, including to Southern Rhodesia where he spent time at school. His father was killed in a plane crash in 1953 when Pullman was seven. His mother remarried and, with a move to Australia, came Pullman's discovery of comic books including "Superman" and "Batman", a medium which he continues to espouse. From 1957 he was educated at Ysgol Ardudwy school in Harlech, Gwynedd and spent time in Norfolk with his grandfather, a clergyman. Around this time Pullman discovered John Milton's "Paradise Lost", which would become a major influence for "His Dark Materials".

From 1963 Pullman attended Exeter College, Oxford, receiving a Third class BA in 1968. In an interview with the "Oxford Student" he stated that he "did not really enjoy the English course" and that "I thought I was doing quite well until I came out with my third class degree and then I realised that I wasn’t — it was the year they stopped giving fourth class degrees otherwise I’d have got one of those". [ [ Growing Pains - Features - The Oxford Student - Official Student Newspaper ] ] He discovered William Blake's illustrations around 1970, which would also later influence him greatly.

Pullman married Judith Speller in 1970 and began teaching children and writing school plays. His first published work was "The Haunted Storm", which joint-won the New English Library's Young Writer's Award in 1972. He nevertheless refuses to discuss it. "Galatea", an adult fantasy-fiction novel, followed in 1978, but it was his school plays which inspired his first children's book, "Count Karlstein", in 1982. He stopped teaching around the publication of "The Ruby in the Smoke" (1986), his second children's book, whose Victorian setting is indicative of Pullman's interest in that era.

Pullman taught part-time at Westminster College, Oxford between 1988 and 1996, continuing to write children's stories. He began "His Dark Materials" about 1993. "Northern Lights" (published as "The Golden Compass" in the US) was published in 1996 and won the Carnegie Medal, one of the most prestigious British children's fiction awards, and the Guardian Children's Fiction Award.

Pullman has been writing full-time since 1996, but continues to deliver talks and writes occasionally for "The Guardian". He was awarded a CBE in the New Year's Honours list in 2004. He also co-judged the prestigious Christopher Tower Poetry Prize (awarded by Oxford University) in 2005 with Gillian Clarke. Pullman also began lecturing at a seminar in English at his alma mater, Exeter College, Oxford, in 2004. [ [] ] [ [] ]

He is currently working on "The Book of Dust", a sequel to his completed "His Dark Materials" trilogy and "The Adventures of John Blake" a story for the British children's comic "The DFC", with artist John Aggs. [ [ Philip Pullman writes comic strip] , "The Times", May 11, 2008] [ [,,2282010,00.html Deep stuff] , "The Guardian", May 24, 2008] [ [ The DFC homepage] , "The DFC"]

On 23 November 2007, Pullman was made an honorary professor at Bangor University. [ [] ]

In June 2008, Pullman became a Fellow [] supporting the MA in Creative Writing [] at Oxford Brookes University.

In September 2008 Pullman will be hosting "The Writer's Table" for Waterstone's bookshop chain, highlighting 40 books which have influenced his career. []

"His Dark Materials"

"His Dark Materials" consists of "Northern Lights" (titled "The Golden Compass" in North America), "The Subtle Knife" and "The Amber Spyglass". The first volume of the trilogy, "Northern Lights", won the Carnegie Medal for children's fiction in the UK in 1995. "The Amber Spyglass", the last volume, was awarded both 2001 Whitbread Prize for best children's book and the Whitbread Book of the Year prize in January 2002, the first children's book to receive that award. The series won popular acclaim in late 2003, taking third place in the BBC's Big Read poll. Pullman has written two companion pieces to the trilogy entitled, "Lyra's Oxford", and the newly released "Once Upon a Time in the North". A third companion piece Pullman refers to as the "green book" will expand upon his character Will. He has plans for one more, the as-yet-unwritten "The Book of Dust", which is tentatively set for release in 2009. This book is not a continuation of the trilogy but will include characters and events from His Dark Materials.

In 2005 Pullman was announced as joint winner of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children's literature.

Religious perspective

Pullman is a supporter of the British Humanist Association and an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society. "New Yorker" journalist Laura Miller has described Pullman as one of England's most outspoken atheists. [cite web|url=|title='Far From Narnia'|accessdate=2007-10-31|author=Miller, Laura|format=Life and Letters article|publisher=The New Yorker]

The "His Dark Materials" books have been controversial with some Christian groups. Peter Hitchens has argued that Pullman actively pursues an anti-Christian agenda. [cite web|url=|title='Is this the most dangerous author in Britain?'|accessdate=2006-09-21|autld hor=Hitchens, Peter|format=Mail on Sunday article|publisher=The Mail on Sunday] In support of this contention, he cites an interview in which Pullman is quoted as saying: "I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief." In the same interview, Pullman also "acknowledge(s) that a controversy would be likely to boost sales. But I'm not in the business of offending people. I find the books upholding certain values that I think are important. Such as that this life is immensely valuable. And that this world is an extraordinarily beautiful place, and we should do what we can to increase the amount of wisdom in the world'."cite web|url=|title=The Last Word|publisher=The Washington Post|date=2001-02-19|accessdate=2007-11-29]

Peter Hitchens views the "His Dark Materials" series as a direct rebuttal of C. S. Lewis's series. [cite news|url=|title= A labour of loathing|accessdate=2006-09-21|author=Hitchens, Peter|format=Spectator article|publisher= [ The Spectator] ] Although Pullman has criticized C. S. Lewis's series "The Chronicles of Narnia" as religious propaganda,Fact|date=July 2008 the two series have several things in common. Both feature children facing adult moral choices, talking animals, religious allegories, parallel worlds, and concern the ultimate fate of those worlds.

Christopher Hitchens (Peter's older brother) praises the trilogy as a fresh alternative to C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and J K Rowling, describing the author as one "whose books have begun to dissolve the frontier between adult and juvenile fiction." [ [ Oxford's Rebel Angel] ]

Literary critic Alan Jacobs (of Wheaton College) argues that in his recasting of John Milton's trilogy, Pullman replaces a theist world-view with a Rousseauist one. [cite web|url=|title=Mars Hill Audio - Audition - Program 10|accessdate=2007-11-13] Pullman has found support from Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Others contend that Pullman's negative portrayal of the "Church" in "His Dark Materials" amounts to an attack on dogmatism and the use of religion to oppress, not on Christianity itself.Fact|date=July 2008 Dr. Williams has gone so far as to propose that "His Dark Materials" be taught as part of religious education in schools. Moreover, authors of works dedicated to critical appraisals of religious themes in his writing have described Pullman as a friendly and generous debating partner [cite news|url=;$sessionid$SQEQJ5TJIJO1BQFIQMFSFFOAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/arts/2004/03/17/bodark17.xml&sSheet=/arts/2004/03/18/ixartright.html|title=The Dark Materials debate: life, God, the universe...|date=March 17,2004|accessdate=2007-04-28|author=Robert Butler |publisher= [ The Telegraph] ] .

Other Christian writers, such as Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware, while finding his anti-Christian position troubling, "also uncover spiritual themes within the books, which, like shafts of light, break through an otherwise gloomy universe—despite Pullman’s best efforts to keep them out. In the end, the authors argue that Pullman offers an unwitting tribute to the God he intended to discredit." [cite web|url=|title='Shedding Light on His Dark Materials'|accessdate=2007-10-01|author=Bruner, Kurt & Ware, Jim|format=Tyndale Products review|publisher=Tyndale] in their book [ "Shedding Light on His Dark Materials"] .

creen adaptations

* A film adaptation of "The Butterfly Tattoo" [ [ The Butterfly Tattoo - Home ] ] finished principal photography on 30 September 2007. Postproduction is currently underway in Manchester and Amsterdam. "The Butterfly Tattoo" is a Philip Pullman supported project to allow young artists a chance to get film industry experience. The film is produced by the Dutch production company Dynamic Entertainment.
* A co-produced BBC and WGBH Boston television adaptation of "The Ruby in the Smoke", starring Billie Piper and Julie Walters, was screened in the UK on BBC One on 27 December 2006 and premiered on PBS Masterpiece Theatre in America on 4 February 2007. The television adaptation of the second book in the series, "The Shadow in the North", aired on the BBC December 26 2007. The BBC and WGBH have plans to adapt the next two Sally Lockhart novels, "The Tiger in the Well", and "The Tin Princess", for television as well.
* A film adaptation, titled "The Golden Compass", was released in December 2007 by New Line Cinema, starring Nicole Kidman, Ian McKellen, Daniel Craig, Sam Elliott, Christopher Lee, and Dakota Blue Richards.
* A mini-series adaptation of "I Was a Rat" was produced by the BBC and aired in three one-hour installments in 2001.


Non-series books

*1972 "The Haunted Storm"
*1976 "Galatea"
*1982 "Count Karlstein"
*1987 "How to be Cool"
*1989 "Spring-Heeled Jack"
*1990 "The Broken Bridge"
*1992 "The White Mercedes"
*1993 "The Wonderful Story of Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp"
*1995 "Clockwork, or, All Wound Up"
*1995 "The Firework-Maker's Daughter"
*1998 "Mossycoat"
*1998 "The Butterfly Tattoo" (re-issue of "The White Mercedes")
*1999 "I was a Rat! or The Scarlet Slippers"
*2000 "Puss in Boots: The Adventures of That Most Enterprising Feline"
*2004 "The Scarecrow and his Servant"

Sally Lockhart

*1985 "The Ruby in the Smoke"
*1986 "The Shadow in the North" (first published as "The Shadow in the Plate")
*1991 "The Tiger in the Well"
*1994 "The Tin Princess"

The New-Cut Gang

*1994 "Thunderbolt's Waxwork"
*1995 "The Gasfitter's Ball"

His Dark Materials

*1995 "Northern Lights", retitled "The Golden Compass" in the US
*1997 "The Subtle Knife"
*2000 "The Amber Spyglass"

Companion Books

*2003 "Lyra's Oxford"
*2008 "Once Upon a Time in the North"
*2009 "The Book of Dust" (not yet published)


*1990 "Frankenstein"
*1992 "Sherlock Holmes and the Limehouse Horror"


*1978 "Ancient Civilisations"
*1978 "Using the Oxford Junior Dictionary"


*2008 "The Adventures of John Blake" in "The DFC"

Source: []


Further reading

*cite book | last=Lenz | first=Millicent | year=2005 | title=His Dark Materials Illuminated: Critical Essays on Phillip Pullman's Trilogy | publisher=Wayne State University Press | id=ISBN 0-8143-3207-2
* Wheat, Leonard F. "Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials - A Multiple Allegory: Attacking Religious Superstition in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Paradise Lost".
* Robert Darby: "Intercision-Circumcision: His Dark Materials, a disturbing allegory of genital mutilation" []

External links

* [] Official site
* [,%20Philip Philip Pullman at House of Legend]
* [,%20Philip Philip Pullman at Random House Australia]
* [ Interview: Philip Pullman: new brand of environmentalism] "The Daily Telegraph", January 19, 2008, "Paradise regained" Extract from interview with Pullman in Do Good Lives Have to Cost the Earth?
* [ Article: Philip Pullman: Kill humans and ration heating] "The Register", January 21, 2008, ""This is a crisis as big as war"
* [,6109,773090,00.html Article: Pullman criticizes modern fiction] "The Guardian", August 12, 2002, "Fiction becoming trivial and worthless, says top author".


NAME= Pullman, Philip
SHORT DESCRIPTION= English novelist
DATE OF BIRTH= 19 October, 1946

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