by Philip Pullman
A new episode in the His Dark
New small softcover book, 64 pages.
An exciting new tale set in the world of Philip Pullman's His
Dark Materials saga. Lyra's Oxford is a collectible softcover volume which includes a short story, Lyra
and the Birds, plus a fold-out map of Oxford and various
"souvenirs" from the past. The book is illustrated throughout with
woodcut illustrations by John Lawrence.
Lyra and the Birds opens two years after the conclusion
of The Amber Spyglass in the comfort and familiarity of Jordan College, where
Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon, sit on the sun-drenched roof looking out over
all of Oxford. But their peace is shattered when a strange bird - a witch's
daemon,on its own - tumbles out of the sky., in search of a healing elixir to
cure his witch of a strange new disease. Lyra and Pan decide to help - witches
are friends, of course - but the closer their winding walk leads them toward the
infamous Oxford alchemist, the stronger Lyra's sense that something is amiss.
About the Author
Philip Pullman CBE (born October 19, 1946) is an
English writer. He is the best-selling author of His Dark Materials, a trilogy
of fantasy novels, and a number of other books.
Pullman was born in Norwich, Norfolk, England, to RAF pilot Alfred Outram and
Audrey Evelyn Merrifield. The family travelled with his father's job, including
to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where he spent time at school. His father
was killed in a plane crash in 1953 when Pullman was seven. His mother remarried
and with a move to Australia came Pullman's discovery of comic books including
Superman and Batman, a medium which he continues to espouse. From 1957 he was
educated at Ysgol Ardudwy school in Harlech, Gwynedd and spent time in Norfolk
with his grandfather, a clergyman. Around this time Pullman discovered John
Milton's Paradise Lost, which would become a major influence for His Dark
From 1963 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
wasnâ€™t â€” it was the year they stopped giving fourth class degrees otherwise
Iâ€™d have got one of those". He discovered William Blake's illustrations
around 1970, which would also later influence him greatly
Pullman married Judith Speller in 1970 and began teaching children and writing
school plays. His first published work was The Haunted Storm, which joint-won
the New English Library's Young Writer's Award in 1972. He nevertheless refuses
to discuss it. Galatea, an adult fantasy-fiction novel, followed in 1978, but it
was his school plays which inspired his first children's book, Count Karlstein,
in 1982. He stopped teaching around the publication of The Ruby in the Smoke
(1986), his second children's book, whose Victorian setting is indicative of
Pullman's interest in that era.
Pullman taught part-time at Westminster College, Oxford between 1988 and 1996,
continuing to write children's stories. He began His Dark Materials about 1993.
Northern Lights (published as The Golden Compass in the US) was published in
1996 and won the Carnegie Medal, one of the most prestigious British children's
fiction awards, and the Guardian Children's Fiction Award.
Pullman has been writing full-time since 1996, but continues to deliver talks
and writes occasionally for The Guardian. He was awarded a CBE in the New Year's
Honours list in 2004. Pullman also began lecturing at a seminar in English at
his alma mater, Exeter College, Oxford, in 2004. He is currently working on The
Book of Dust, a sequel to his completed His Dark Materials trilogy.
His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials consists of Northern Lights (titled The Golden Compass in
North America), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass (see also a short
companion piece, Lyra's Oxford, containing items of interest and a short story,
as well as the yet-unpublished prequel, The Book of Dust ).
The first volume of the trilogy, Northern Lights, won the Carnegie Medal for
children's fiction in the UK in 1995. The Amber Spyglass, the last volume, was
awarded both 2001 Whitbread Prize for best children's book and the Whitbread
Book of the Year prize in January 2002, the first children's book to receive
that award. The trilogy won popular acclaim in late 2003, taking third place in
the BBC's Big Read poll.
In 2005 Pullman was announced as joint winner of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial
Award for children's literature.
Philosophical and religious perspective
Pullman is a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association and an
Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society.
The His Dark Materials books have been at the heart of controversy, especially
with certain Christian groups. Some, including Peter Hitchens, claim that he
actively pursues an anti-Christian agenda. Proponents of this view cite the
critical articles he has written regarding C. S. Lewis' series The Chronicles of
Narnia (which Pullman denounces as religious propaganda), and the usually
negative portrayal of the "Church" in His Dark Materials.
The two series have some resemblance. Both feature children facing adult moral
choices, talking animals, religious allegories, parallel worlds, and concern the
ultimate fate of those worlds. The first published Narnia book, The Lion, the
Witch and the Wardrobe, begins with a young girl hiding in a wardrobe, as does
the first His Dark Materials book, Northern Lights (published as The Golden
Compass in North America).
Some, including Hitchens again, have seen the His Dark Materials series as a
direct rebuttal of C. S. Lewis's series.Pullman has also criticised the way
Lewis excludes the character Susan from the final 'heaven' scenes in The Last
Battle, saying she is rejected for her growing worldliness. Lewis devotees argue
that Pullman has read too deeply into this; Lewis made no statement about
Susan's ultimate destiny, and never excluded the possibility of her rejoining
her friends in heaven later, as they are dead and she is still alive.
However, Pullman has found support from other Christians, most notably Rowan
Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. These groups and individuals point out
that Pullman's attacks are focused on the constraints of dogmatism and the use
of religion to oppress, not on Christianity itself. Dr. Williams has gone so far
as to propose that His Dark Materials be taught as part of religious education
in schools. Moreover, even authors of works dedicated to critical appraisals of
religious themes in his writing have described Pullman as a friendly and
generous debating partner.
* A film adaptation of The Butterfly Tattoo is set to film in 2007. It is
a Philip Pullman supported project to allow young artists a chance to get film
* A co-produced BBC and WGBH Boston television adaptation of The Ruby in the
Smoke, starring Billie Piper and Julie Walters, was screened in the UK on BBC
One on 27 December 2006 and premiered on PBS Masterpiece Theatre in America on
February 4, 2007. The BBC and WGBH have plans to adapt the other three Sally
Lockhart novels, The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well, and The Tin
Princess, for television.
* A film adaptation, titled His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass, is to be
released in December 2007 by New Line Cinema, starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel
Craig and Dakota Blue Richards.
The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass and Lyra's Oxford are all available at The Bookshelf of Oz. His Dark Materials is available as a set of 3 softcover books.
To purchase audiobooks in the His Dark Materials
Trilogy, click here to visit The
House of Oojah
See books in the His Dark Materials trilogy and other Philip Pullman books click here
Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman