Philip Pullman, in full Philip Nicholas Pullman, (born October 19, 1946, Norwich, England), British author of novels for children and young adults who is best known for the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials (1995–2000). Pullman was the son of a Royal Air Force officer. His family moved many times during his childhood and settled for some years in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). On the long journeys dictated by his father’s various postings, he regaled his younger brother with his fantasy tales. After his father died in a plane crash, young Philip was sent back to England in kinship care to live with his grandparents. Following his mother’s remarriage, Pullman joined her and his stepfather in Australia; they all subsequently moved to Harlech, Wales.
After studying English at the University of Oxford, Pullman remained resident in Oxford, working as a teacher. The first volume of His Dark Materials trilogy, Northern Lights, won the 1996 Carnegie Medal in Literature and was adapted into a major motion picture (2007). It was followed by The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000). The latter volume won the Whitbread Book Award in 2001.
Readers and critics alike considered Pullman a worthy successor to J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, and C.S. Lewis, who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia. However, while Lewis portrayed religion in a positive light, Pullman, who was a vocal atheist, wrote of the abuses of organized religion and instead embraced a humanistic morality. The series attracted criticism from those who believed it was an attack on the Roman Catholic Church.
In 2017 Pullman released La Belle Sauvage, the first of three planned installments in his The Book of Dust series. It continues the story of Lyra, chronicling her life both before and after His Dark Materials. However, rather than describing it as a prequel or sequel, Pullman claimed that The Book of Dust trilogy was an “equel.” The second book in the series, The Secret Commonwealth, appeared in 2019.