Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman was born in Norwich on 19 October 1946. He studied at Oxford University, graduating in 1968 and becoming a teacher.  

The first novel he wrote was for adults, but much of his work is for children. His books include four novels in the ‘Sally Lockhart’ series,  Clockwork (1996) was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children’s Book Award and for a Carnegie medal in 1997.  More recently, Philip Pullman has become well-known for the ‘His Dark Materials’ Series, of fantasy novels telling the story of Lyra Belacqua, a young girl whose destiny is to ‘change destiny’. The original trilogy is Northern Lights (1995), winner of a Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and a British Book Award, and shortlisted in 2007 for the Carnegie of Carnegies; The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000), which was the first children’s book to win the Whitbread Book of the Year. All three books in the ‘Dark Materials’ Series have been adapted for the stage and screen. 

Philip Pullman believes that ‘stories are the most important thing in the world. Without stories, we wouldn’t be human beings at all.’  In 2008, Pullman led a campaign against the introduction of age bands on the covers of children’s books, saying: “It’s based on a one-dimensional view of growth, which regards growing older as moving along a line like a monkey climbing a stick: now you’re seven, so you read these books; and now you’re nine so you read these.” More than 1,200 authors, booksellers, illustrators, librarians and teachers joined the campaign and Pullman’s own publisher, Scholastic, agreed to his request not to put the age bands on his book covers.   

In 2014, Pullman supported the ‘Let Books Be Books’ campaign to stop children’s books being labelled for gender saying: “I’m against anything, from age-ranging to pinking and blueing, whose effect is to shut the door in the face of children who might enjoy coming in. No publisher should announce on the cover of any book the sort of readers the book would prefer. Let the readers decide for themselves.”  

In 2017, he announced a new trilogy, The Book of Dust, based in the same universe as His Dark Materials. The first volume, La Bella Sauvage (2017), was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize and saw Pullman named Author of the Year at the British Book Awards. A second volume, The Secret Commonwealth, is published in 2019.  His most recent novella was published on 15th October 2020 – Serpentine is a further insight into the world of Lyra Belacqua 

They looked at each other as if they were strangers. Each of them had had quite the wrong idea about things, and they were both alarmed to find it out. 

Philip Pullman, The firework-makers daughter 

Young Adult Fiction:

The Ruby in the smoke

Available as an eBook, eAudiobook and physical book

Soon after Sally Lockhart’s father drowns at sea, she receives an anonymous letter. The warning it contains makes a man die of fear at her feet. Determined to discover the truth about her father’s death, Sally is plunged into a terrifying mystery in the dark heart of Victorian London, at the centre of which lies a deadly blood-soaked jewel. 

The Shadow in the north

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Sally is 22 and running her own financial consultancy – a thoroughly modern woman in a world of pompous men – but she’s about to be thrown headlong into a vicious web of murder, mystery and pure evil. When a client’s lost investment appears suspicious Sally investigates 

The Tiger in the well

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Sally is 25, and somebody wants to destroy her. She receives divorce papers from a man she has never met, let alone married – yet his trap is so well laid that she is powerless to prove otherwise. When custody of her precious daughter is awarded to this evil stranger, it is the beginning of a terrifying struggle. 

The Tin Princess

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Sally’s oldest friend, Jim Taylor, has been searching for Adelaide all his life – since he saved the little slum girl from a cruel mistress and then lost her again in the dark alleys of Victorian London. He never expected to find her as the Crown Princess of Razkavia, threatened by dangerous rivals in a corrupt kingdom. 

Once upon a time in the north

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Here is a story which gives new insights into the world of ‘His Dark Materials’. When Lyra is studying at Oxford University, she comes across the story of Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnison’s first meeting 

The collectors

Available as an eBook

‘But the thing is,’ said Horley, ‘they didn’t know each other at all. Never heard of each other. It wasn’t about the makers. Only about the works.’On a dark winter’s night in 1970, Horley and Grinstead huddle for warmth in the Senior Common Room of a college in Oxford. Conversation turns to the two impressive works of art that Horley has recently added to his collection. What the two men don’t know is that these pieces are connected in mysterious and improbable ways; and they are about to be caught in the cross-fire of a story which has travelled time and worlds.

Northern Lights/The golden compass 

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When Lyra’s friend Roger disappears, she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him. The ensuing quest leads them into the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies. 

The subtle knife

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Without this child, we shall all die. Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences far beyond her own world. 

The Amber Spyglass

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Will and Lyra, whose fates are bound together by powers beyond their own worlds, have been violently separated. But they must find each other, for ahead of them lies the greatest war that has ever been – and a journey to a dark place from which no one has ever returned. 

Lyra’s Oxford

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Lyra didn’t often climb out of her bedroom window these days. She had access to a key to let her on to the roof of Jordan College where she regularly spent time studying and sometimes watching the storks that nested on St. Michaels’ tower. 

Serpentine

Available as a physical book

Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon have left the events of ‘His Dark Materials’ far behind. In this snapshot of their forever-changed lives they return to the North to visit an old friend, where we will learn that things are not exactly as they seem. 

La Belle Sauvage

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Philip Pullman returns to the world of ‘His Dark Materials’ with this novel, set ten years before ‘Northern Lights’ and featuring his much-loved character, Lyra Belacqua. 

The Secret Commonwealth

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The Secret Commonwealth’ sees Lyra, now 20 years old, and her daemon Pantalaimon, forced to navigate their relationship in a way they could never have imagined, and drawn into the complex and dangerous factions of a world that they had no idea existed. Pulled along on his own journey too is Malcolm; once a boy with a boat and a mission to save a baby from the flood, now a man with a strong sense of duty and a desire to do what is right. Theirs is a world at once familiar and extraordinary, and they must travel far beyond the edges of Oxford, across Europe and into Asia, in search for what is lost – a city haunted by daemons, a secret at the heart of a desert, and the mystery of the elusive Dust. 

The butterfly tattoo

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Chris, a sixth-former, is working on the lighting at an Oxford ball. He meets Jenny and they fall in love. Their joy is short-lived for Chris’s boss has a shady past that is catching up with him. 

The broken bridge

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The Broken Bridge is the tale of Ginny, a sixteen-year-old half-Haitian girl living with her father in a small seaside village in Wales. She’s becoming a brilliant artist, just like her mother, who died when Ginny was a baby. Despite the isolation she sometimes feels, her life is turning out OK. Then her social worker cracks open her files and her world falls apart. Ginny’s father has kept a devastating secret from her all her life. In fact, everything she thought she knew about her family and her identity is a lie. And now, to find out who she really is, Ginny must relive the dark tragedies in her past. 

Children’s Fiction:

Count Karlstein

Available as a physical book

No one in the village of Karlstein dares to leave their home on All Souls Eve – the night Zamiel, the Demon Huntsman comes to claim his prey. But the evil Count Karlstein has struck a terrible bargin with Zamiel, and so the lives of his young nieces, Lucy and Charlotte, are in danger. 

Spring-heeled Jack

Available as a physical book

Deep in the murkiest backstreets of old London town, three children are escaping from an orphanage. But lurking in the fog is a king among villains – Mack the Knife. A dreadful fate looks certain – until Spring-heeled Jack leaps to the rescue. 

The firework-makers daughter

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Lila doesn’t just want to be a Firework-Maker’s daughter, she wants to be a Firework Maker herself. But although she’s learned a lot she still must get through the most difficult and dangerous part of her apprenticeship – and her father won’t tell her what it is. In search of this final Firework-Making secret, Lila heads off alone on a journey. It is a journey filled with dangers beyond anything she could have imagined, a journey on which she will learn so much more than the one secret she set out to find. 

Clockwork

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A tormented apprentice clockmaker – and a deadly knight in armour. A mechanical prince – and the sinister Dr Kalmenius, who some say is the devil. These characters merge to create a story that is funny, frightening, exciting and clever. 

I was a rat

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I was a Rat! is a weaving of fairy tale and adventure. It is a tale about a rat who turns into Cinderalla’s coachman and cannot change back. 

The scarecrow and his servant

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So begins the story of the Scarecrow, a courteous but pea-brained fellow with grand ideas. He meets a boy, Jack, who becomes his faithful servant, and they set out to journey to Spring Valley together. Along the way there’s no end of excitement – battle and shipwreck, brigands and tricksters – and it’s up to Jack time after time to save the day 

Thunderbolt’s Waxwork

Available as an eAudiobook

In 1890s Lambeth, many people are trying to make a dishonest bob or two. So it’s all the more galling when Thunderbolt Dobney’s father is arrested for counterfeiting coins. Benny, Bridie and Thunderbolt’s other friends set out to prove his innocence. 

The Gas-Fitter’s Ball

Available as an eAudiobook

Lambeth, South London, 1894.Meet the New Cut Gang – Sharky Bob, Benny, Thunderbolt, Bridie and the Peretti twins: the greatest detectives since Sexton Blake. They inhabit the streets around Lambeth Walk and the New Cut in London, a place bristling with gangsters, bookies, pickpockets, horse thieves and the occasional policeman.Who’s stolen the Worshipful Company of Gas-Fitters’ silver? With a little help from some colourful (and not always willing) accomplices, our heroes are soon blazing hot on the criminals’ trail. 

The Adventures of the new cut gang

Available as a physical book

In ‘Thunderbolt’s Waxwork,’ who’s passing counterfeit coins round Lambeth? Surely not Thunderbolt’s dad, who’s been arrested. In ‘The Gas-Fitters’ Ball’, who’s stolen the Worshipful Compan of Gas-Fitters’ silver? 

Aladdin and the enchanted lamp

Available as a physical book

Philip Pullman’s wry wit and award-winning talent brings much to this rich, dark and uplifting story. With magic and mischief in equal measure, it is sure to captivate readers everywhere.

Puss in boots

Available as a physical book

In this reworking of the classic tale, Jacques inherits a cat whilst his brothers get the mill and the donkey. But Puss is no ordinary cat and is going to make Jacques’ fortune for him if he’ll only listen! 

Adult Fiction:

The good man Jesus and the scoundrel Christ

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In this ingenious, spellbinding and fiercely subversive retelling of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman reimagines the most influential story ever told. He offers a radical new take on the myths and the mysteries of the Gospel truth and the resulting church that has so shaped the course of the last two millennia.

Daemon voices

Available as an eBook and physical book

In over 30 essays, written over 20 years, one of the world’s great story-tellers meditates on story-telling. Warm, funny, generous, entertaining, and above all, deeply considered, they offer thoughts on a wide variety of topic, including the origin and composition of Philip’s own stories, the craft of writing and the story-tellers who have meant the most to him.

You shouldn’t do it if you hate it. 

Philip Pullman, The butterfly tattoo 

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