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About Philip Pullman

Photo Credit: Wolf Marloh
“Stories are the most important thing in the world. Without stories, we wouldn't be human beings at all.”

Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England in 1946 and the early part of his life was spent traveling all over the world, because his father and then his stepfather were both in the Royal Air Force.

From the age of 11, he lived in North Wales, having moved back to Britain. It was a time when children were allowed to roam anywhere, to play in the streets, to wander over the hills, and he took full advantage of it. His English teacher, Miss Enid Jones, was a big influence on him, and he still sends her copies of his books.

After he left school he went to Exeter College, Oxford, to read English. He found his way into the teaching profession at the age of 25, and after teaching at various Oxford middle schools for twelve years, he moved to Westminster College, Oxford, where he taught courses on the Victorian novel and on the folk tale, and also a course examining how words and pictures fit together. He eventually left teaching in order to write full-time.

Pullman’s first children’s book was Count Karlstein (1982, republished in 1998).  That was followed by The Ruby in the Smoke (1986), the first in a quartet of books featuring the young Victorian Adventurer Sally Lockhart.  He’s also written a number of shorter novels including The Scarecrow and his Servant, I Was a Rat!, The Firework-Maker's Daughter, and Clockwork, or All Wound Up.

His most well-known work is the trilogy His Dark Materials, beginning with The Golden Compass (Northern Lights in the UK) in 1996, continuing with The Subtle Knife in 1997, and concluding with The Amber Spyglass in 2000. He’s also written two related volumes: Lyra’s Oxford and the forthcoming Once Upon a Time in the North. The trilogy has been honored by numerous prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children's Book Award, and (for The Amber Spyglass) the Whitbread Book of the Year Award - the first time in the history of that prize that it was given to a children's book.  The Golden Compass has been adapted as an acclaimed stage play at the National Theatre in London and New Line Cinema released the feature film worldwide on December 7, 2007. 

In 2005, Pullman was honored with the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, an international prize for children’s and youth literature.  Then, in June 2007, Philip Pullman cemented his place as one of the stars of children’s literature when he was awarded the “Carnegie of Carnegies” for The Golden Compass, triumphing in a poll to choose book lovers' favorite winner from the Carnegie medal's 70-year history.

He and his wife, Jude, live in Oxford and have two grown sons, Jamie and Tom.  Pullman is a member of the Guild of Rocking Horse-Makers.  He recently finished making a rocking horse of poplar and ash, painted dapple gray, which is a gift for his two grandchildren, Freddie and Kitty.