Philip Pullman

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Philip Pullman CBE, FRSL (born 19 October 1946) is an English writer from Norwich. He is the best-selling author of several books, most notably his trilogy of fantasy novels, His Dark Materials, and his fictional biography of Jesus, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. The first of His Dark Materials has been turned into the film The Golden Compass and the first two books from his Sally Lockhart series have been adapted for television.

In 2008, The Times named Pullman in its list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".[1]


Life and career

Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England, the son of Audrey Evelyn (née Merrifield) and Royal Air Force pilot Alfred Outram Pullman. The family travelled with his father's job, including to Southern Rhodesia where he spent time at school.

His father was killed in a plane crash in 1953 when Pullman was seven, being awarded posthumously the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). Pullman said at the beginning of a 2008 exchange that to him as a boy, his father "was a hero, steeped in glamour, killed in action defending his country" and had been "training pilots, I think." Pullman was then presented with a report from The London Gazette of 1954 "which carried the official RAF news of the day [and] said that the medal was given for 'gallant and distinguished service' during the Mau Mau uprising. 'The main task of the Harvards [the squadron of planes led by his father] has been bombing and machine-gunning Mau Mau and their hideouts in densely wooded and difficult country.' This included 'diving steeply into the gorges of [various] rivers, often in conditions of low cloud and driving rain.' Testing conditions, yes, but not much opposition from the enemy[, the journalist in the exchange continued]. Very few of the Mau Mau had guns that could land a blow on an aircraft." Pullman responded to this new information, writing "my father probably doesn't come out of this with very much credit, judged by the standards of modern liberal progressive thought" and accepted the new information as "a serious challenge to his childhood memory."[2]

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