Phillip Pullman

A Phenomenal and Religion-Obsessed Author

Looking Into the Author

Award-winning British author Phillip Pullman is known for his dark, religion-based writing. This is emphasized in his most famous series, His Dark Materials, along with nearly twenty other books. Popular with teens and young adults, Pullman captivated readers with his deep, hidden messages, but the distrust of the church embedded in his writing made religious believers turn away. The series His Dark Materials was supposed to be made into three movies, one for each book, but the majority of the population didn't approve of the anti-church theme, and after the release of the first movie, the movie trilogy was discontinued.

Born in 1946 in Norwich, England, Pullman traveled a lot as a child since his father was in the Air Force. He was educated in Zimbabwe, Africa, and settled in North Wales, and later graduated from Exeter College in Oxford. As a child, he loved comics, but this developed into a love for writing as he got older, and due to his multicultural experience growing up, decided to input some of the ideas he picked up along the way. Turns out traveling kids end up great writers!

Beyond his writing career, Pullman likes woodworking and drawing. He also enjoys the piano though, to quote him, "the rest of the family has to put up with my playing it badly." If he wasn't a writer, he would be some sort of craftsman.

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Philip Pullman's List of Works

For this project I read:

The Golden Compass

The Subtle Knife

The Amber Spyglass

Ruby in the Smoke

If you were to start reading Philip Pullman, I would suggest The Golden Compass, because it is easy to understand and is a good intro for the trilogy. I would avoid The Amber Spyglass.

Common Themes in Philip Pullman's Work

The theme that presented itself most often in Pullman's work is the idea that organizations in power generally tend to be corrupt. This theme was prominent in The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. In all three books, protagonists Lyra Silvertongue and Will Parry fight against the power-hungry Magisterium, an organization that resembles the Church. The Magisterium attempts to destroy original sin, or awareness, from all worlds, creating an ignorant, unaware universe. The protagonists are finally able to defeat the Magisterium, but only after pain, struggle, and loss- once again proving that powerful societies don't go down lightly.

Philip Pullman's Writing Style

Philip Pullman's writing style is very mysterious and deep, with hidden meaning behind every word. It can be hard to understand at times, because of its complexity, but definitely worth the read.

Common traits found in Pullman's writing:

  • Always writes in third person omniscient
  • Switches between character perspectives every chapter
  • Has a balance of quick, witty dialogue and long, descriptive prose
  • Inputs many complex and mixed sentences
  • Uses dashes often
  • Uses ellipses often
  • Often refers back to a memory or time in the past to better "understand" a character

  • favors compound sentences
  • long paragraphs

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Inspiring Quotes By Philip Pullman

"You cannot change what you are, only what you do." -Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass

"People are too complicated to have simple labels." -Phillip Pullman

“Even if it means oblivion, friends, I'll welcome it, because it won't be nothing. We'll be alive again in a thousand blades of grass, and a million leaves; we'll be falling in the raindrops and blowing in the fresh breeze; we'll be glittering in the dew under the stars and the moon out there in the physical world, which is our true home and always was.” -Phillip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass