Philip Pullman is the award winning author of the His Dark Materials series. Born in Norwich, England, the son of Audrey Evelyn Pullman and Royal Air Force pilot Alfred Outram Pullman. His family travelled with his father’s job, including to Southern Rhodesia, though most of his formative years were spent in Llanbedr in Ardudwy, Wales.
Pullman attended Taverham Hall and Eaton House in his early years, and from 1957 he was educated at Ysgol Ardudwy in Harlech, Gwynedd, and spent time in Norfolk with his grandfather, a clergyman. Around this time Pullman discovered John Milton’s 17th century epic poem Paradise Lost, which would become a major influence for His Dark Materials.
From 1965, 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”. He discovered William Blake’s illustrations around 1970, which would also later influence him greatly.
Titled “The Golden Compass” in the US, Northern Lights is the first in Pullman’s bestselling His Dark Materials trilogy, an international sensation that has been adapted for a major motion picture and acclaimed TV series. The series continues with The Book of Dust trilogy, but it all started with Northern Lights, which begins with Lyra and her dæmon still living back in Jordan College and the ways of her mysterious world outside of the College unknown to her.
In Jordan College, Oxford, 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua and her dæmon Pantalaimon witness the Master attempt to poison Lord Asriel, Lyra’s rebellious and adventuring uncle. She warns Asriel, then spies on his lecture about Dust, mysterious elementary particles. Lyra’s friend Roger is kidnapped by child abductors known as the “Gobblers.” Lyra is secretly entrusts with an alethiometer, a golden compass-like device with an array of mysterious symbols, one of the few devices of its kind in existence. Lyra is told that when used correctly an alethiometer is capable of answering truthfully any question asked of it, provided you know how to interpret the answer. As Lyra sets off from Jordan College in search for answers, no one (not even the Master or Lyra herself) knows just how far her search for the truth will take her…
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