Philip Pullman Biography


As members of the British Royal Air Force, Phillip Pullman's father and stepfather were stationed throughout the world. After Pullman was born on October 19, 1946 in Norwich, England, he spent his early years traveling with his mother by ship to places such as South Africa, Australia, and India. A frequent traveler on the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company's ships, he claims that the first thing that he learned to read was the name of the steamship line which was woven into all the towels.

After he was eleven, Pullman remained in England and attended Ysgol Ardudwy, Harlech, in North Wales. Graduating from Exeter College at Oxford University in 1968 with a B.A., he worked in factories, restaurants, and shops. In 1972 he became an English teacher with the Oxfordshire Education Authority. Since 1988 he has served as a lecturer at Westminster College in Oxford. The father of two boys, he resides in Oxford, England with his wife Judith.

Pullman began writing for children and young adults in 1978, and in 1987 he published the first title in his trilogy about Sally Lockhart. This trilogy of The Ruby in the Smoke, Shadow in the North, and The Tiger in the Well has established his reputation as a writer of historical fiction set in Victorian London and has led some critics to call him a modern-day Charles Dickens. The Ruby in the Smoke won the 1988 Children's Book Award from the International Reading...

(The entire section is 316 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England, but spent most of youth in Rhodesia, Australia, London, and Wales, and to this day retains a love of travel. As a child, Pullman enjoyed reading Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, finding the "combination of rich, incantatory language and mysterious evocative pictures . . . irresistible." He attended Oxford University, finishing in 1968 with a degree in English, and has been a teacher there since 1973. His young adult writings are supplemented by a novel for adults, Galatea (1978) and one for younger children, Count Karlstein (1982), as well as several plays, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Sumatran Devil, an adaptation of Frankenstein (1990), and an adaptation of The Three Musketeers.

Pullman enjoys music and keeps a saxophone and a guitar in the shed where he writes. In a questionnaire from his publisher, he stated that one thing he would like to accomplish is to play the saxophone well enough to be allowed in the house with it. He finds that some of his best training for being a writer came from his teaching experience in various middle schools in Oxford from 1973 to 1986, "because by telling a story aloud (without the aid of a book) you develop a sense of shape and structure and timing which are basic to all storytelling." Imagination also plays a strong part in storytelling, and Pullman keeps photographs of "long-dead people whose names" he does not know...

(The entire section is 251 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Philip Pullman was born October 19,1946, in Norwich, Norfolk, England. The son of Alfred Outram and Audrey Evelyn (Merrifield), he has one brother. Before age eleven, he traveled extensively with his family. "A lot of my life before I was ten was spent on board a ship. My father and then my stepfather were both in the Royal Air Force, and my mother and my brother and I seemed to constantly following them around the world by sea." His journeys included trips to South Africa and Australia, through the Suez Canal, Bombay, Aden, Columbo, and Las Palmas. He attended schools in Southern Rhodesia, South Australia, and England until age eleven. Then, when the family returned to England, he was educated at Ysgol Ardudwy, Harlech, in North Wales. These many exotic locations appear in some form, especially in The Golden Compass, but also in his "Sally Lockhart" books. The unregulated childhood and early travels of his own experiences are obvious in the habits and attitudes of Lyra Belacqua, the main character of the aforementioned novel.

After primary school, Pullman attended Exeter College and read English, receiving a B.A. from Oxford University in 1968. He still lives in Oxfordshire. He married Judith (Jude) Speller on August 15,1970, and they have two sons, James (Jamie) and Thomas (Tom). He has described his wife and children as his first audience and repeatedly suggests that one should tell stories and read stories to children if one is to be a children's writer. His grandfather was the storyteller in his life. "My grandfather died before I published my first children's book, but I still measure what I write against his judgment." Pullman is also interested in music and drawing and describes visiting art and historical museums, either to sit and look or to drink a favorite cup of coffee as a way of getting re-inspired for when he is writing.

As well as writing sixteen children's books, and one adult novel, Galatea, he has also worked as a teacher for the Oxfordshire Education Authority (1972-1988) and as a part-time lecturer for Westminster College, Oxford (1988-96). His familiarity with middle- grade children is aptly demonstrated in the detailed portrait of Lyra and her few friends, but also in the institutional setting in Bolvangar. Children's tendencies to gang up on each other, to follow the crowd and to obey orders in the face of uncertainty are...

(The entire section is 973 words.)