How much is Philip Pullman worth?
|Net Worth:||$20 Million
|Date of Birth:||October 19, 1946|
Philip Pullman is in the business of telling stories, and his prolific career has included the popular trilogy His Dark Materials and the Sally Lockhart mysteries quartet. A talented writer, illustrator, and speaker, Pullman also advocates passionately for education and is fighting a fierce battle against the closure of public libraries.
Who Is Philip Pullman
Born in England in 1946, Pullman was educated in some of the best schools throughout England, Australia and Zimbabwe. He attended Exeter College and a few years later entered the teaching field. After teaching middle school, Pullman accepted a position at Oxford University and taught courses in education.
In addition to writing, Pullman enjoys other hobbies. On his Web site he writes, “When I’m not writing books I like to draw and to make things out of wood. I also like to play the piano. I’d like to play it well, but I can’t, so the rest of the family has to put up with my playing it badly.”
Pullman’s Writing Career
Pullman wrote his first children’s book, Count Karlstein, in 1982. In 1985, he found success with his Victorian thriller mysteries starring a sixteen-year-old sleuth named Sally Lockhart. The first book of mysteries is The Ruby in the Smoke.
While Pullman is primarily known for his fantasy work in His Dark Materials, he’s also written realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery thrillers, plays, picture books, and many, many speeches. Of all his books, Pullman writes that his favorite series is the New Cut Gang, two books about a gang of street urchins who encounter all sorts of trouble in London, 1892.
Books by Philip Pullman
While many of his books are written for children and teens, adults also enjoy Pullman’s varied and scholarly narratives.
His Dark Materials Trilogy
The Golden Compass (Published in the UK as Northern Lights)(Alfred A. Knopf, 1996. ISBN: 9780679879244) The Subtle Knife (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. ISBN: 9780375846724) The Amber Spyglass (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. ISBN: 9780375846731)
Sally Lockhart Quartet
The Ruby in the Smoke (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. ISBN: 9780375845161) The Shadows in the North (Ember, 2008. ISBN: 9780375845154) The Tiger in the Well (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. ISBN: 9780375845178) The Tin Princess (Alfred A. Knopf. 2008. ISBN: 9780375845147)
The New Cut Gang
Thunderbolt’s Waxwork (Puffin Books, Penguin Group, 1996. ISBN: 9780140364101) The Gas-Fitters’ Ball (Puffin Books, Penguin Group, 1998. ISBN: 9780140364118)
The Ruby in the Smoke
Sally Lockhart, a sixteen-year-old teen sleuth, first appeared in print in 1985 as the spirited and competent heroine in Phillip Pullman’s Victorian thriller The Ruby in the Smoke. The orphaned girl with a mysterious past sets out to learn more about her father’s suspicious death and finds herself entangled in a melodrama involving opium dens, a priceless ruby, and a cast of villainous characters.
Story Line: The Ruby in the Smoke
After her father drowns in the South China Sea, Sally Lockhart, sixteen and orphaned, is determined to uncover the mystery off her father’s death by piecing together various clues. Her investigation begins by trying to decipher the meaning of the fatal phrase “the seven blessings”. When Sally visits a former associate of her father’s and asks about the blessings, the man keels over dead from a heart attack. Immediately, Sally is thrust into a dangerous position as other players in the story begin to surface and seek her out. Unbeknownst to Sally, she has stirred up secrets involving a shipping company, Chinese gangs, and opium dealers. When it’s discovered that she’s also inherited a priceless ruby, she must protect herself from deadly assassins.
Fortunately, Sally is aided in her adventure by her clever and resourceful friends Frederick Garland, a photographer, and Jim, a young assistant who works on the shipping dock. Together they hunt down and inadvertently encounter pieces of the puzzle, while battling the dark, seamy underworld of London.
The Sally Lockhart Quartet
Sally’s sleuthing adventures don’t end with The Ruby in the Smoke. The young heroine’s story continues in a series of three more books. Each of these books finds teen sleuth Sally Lockhart and her friends embarking on a historical mystery thriller that is pure melodrama and charm.
- The Ruby in the Smoke (Alfred A. Knopf, Random House, 2008. ISBN: 9780375845161) First published 1985
- The Shadow in the North (Ember, Random House, 2008. ISBN: 9780375845154) First published 1999 >The Tiger in the Well (Alfred A. Knopf, Random House, 2008. ISBN: 9780375845178) First published 1999
- The Tin Princess (Alfred A. Knopf, Random House, 2008. ISBN: 9780375845147) First published 2000
The British Broadcasting Company produced a made for TV adaptation of The Ruby in the Smoke in 2006 and The Shadow in the North in 2007.
Author Philip Pullman
A dedicated storyteller and advocate of education, renowned author and educator Philip Pullman was born in 1946 in England. He is best known for the controversial His Dark Materials trilogy. Pullman is the recipient of many literary awards, including the prestigious Carnegie Medal, but some of his books have also be challenged and censored. (Source: Official Web site of Philip Pullman)
For more about Philip Pullman, including his background, his books and the books and views that have been challenged, see my Author Spotlight: Philip Pullman
If you are looking for an old fashioned melodrama with British flair that involves a feisty heroine capable of outwitting all sorts of shady characters, then a Sally Lockhart mystery is what you need to read. Cut throats, villains, a hag, and assassins make up part of the cast of this British caper through dark Victorian England.
In addition, if you’re looking for scholarly literature, Phillip Pullman is the man to read. Pullman writes on his website that he did a great amount of research for this book, which is manifested in the historic details of the opium trade, Frederic’s work in revolutionary photography, and the British shipping industry.
Whether they are exchanging witty barbs, hatching plots of attack, issuing death threats, or describing opium induced dreams, the dialogue between the characters is crisp and smart. Although the storyline is melodramatic, the narration is sophisticated and threaded with classical British composure. Teens who enjoy a smart, intelligent mystery with historic details will like following Sally Lockhart on her many London adventures. I recommend this book for teens 14 and up.
The Golden Compass
Lyra Belacqua is a rough and tumble girl of about 10 or 11 years of age and the central character of Philip Pullman’s YA-fantasy novel, The Golden Compass. Her home is with the scholars of Jordan College in Oxford, but she finds her greatest pleasures among the Gyptian children who inhabit Oxford’s streets and canals. Whether she’s making mischief by the river or chasing her best friend, Roger, along the city’s roofs, Lyra is content – until Uncle Asriel arrives with photograms of the Northern Lights, the head of Stanislaus Grumman, and talk of Dust.
Lyra’s world, crafted masterfully by Philip Pullman, very much resembles our world with some subtle differences and a splash or two of magic. The pervasive Dust, elementary particles which not only make up the fabric of Lyra’s physical universe but contain all the knowledge therein is one key distinction as is the externalizing of a person’s soul in the form of a daemon.One’s daemon is the animal that reflects the innermost self. Are you a snake? Are you a puppy dog? Look at the daemon by your side, and that will tell you. One’s daemon is one’s soul. Pantalaimon, Lyra’s daemon, often assumes the form of a mouse, a moth, or an ermine. A child’s daemon has the ability to change forms until the child reaches adolescence.
Lyra is a compelling if not endearing central character. Obstinate, rash, stubborn – and these are her finest qualities, in addition to the unflinching loyalty which takes her off into dangers unknown to rescue her friend Roger from a shadowy band of kidnappers known among the local children as “The Gobblers.” Moved along by forces beyond her control, Lyra finds herself teamed up with the Gyptian folk, a river-dwelling people with an Irish air about them, who set a course for lands North to rescue and return their stolen children. The other players on Lyra’s team include a hot-air balloon pilot from New Denmark (the United States of Pullman’s world) and the stoic Iorek Byrnison, an armored polar bear outcast from his Nordic home.
The Golden Compass, originally published in England as Northern Lights, falls easily into the YA-fantasy bucket. Like Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord and J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series, it was written for young adults but enjoys a large crossover adult following. In fact, Philip Pullman was writing this, the first volume of the His Dark Materials trilogy at about the same time J.K. Rowling was writing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Philip Pullman is a graduate of Oxford University and a master-storyteller. He makes his home in Oxford, England where he writes “in a shed at the bottom of the garden.” The Golden Compass is the stuff of myth and legend – artic explorers, magic devices, and warrior-bears – infused with color and rhythm by the author’s narrative artistry.
From Book to Film and Stage…
Northern Lights, the first book in His Dark Materials trilogy, was made into a movie in the United States and, like the book, was renamed The Golden Compass. Additionally, a stage production of the trilogy is currently touring the United Kingdom. One of Pullman’s earlier workers, a fairy tale called “The Fire-Maker’s Daughter” was also adapted into a play.
An Advocate for Libraries and Education
Besides being a writer and illustrator, Philip Pullman actively speaks out against closing public libraries in England. Along with other notable British celebrities, Pullman protested against the closure of six libraries in the Northwest part of London. Although they lost the court appeal, it’s likely that the group will take their protest to a higher court.
As a former educator, Pullman also has strong feelings regarding testing in schools. On his Web site he writes, “My main concern is that an over-emphasis on testing and league tables has led to a lack of time and freedom for a true, imaginative and humane engagement with literature.”
Atheism and Challenges to the His Dark Materials Trilogy
Philip Pullman does not shy away from discussions about religion or his atheistic beliefs. When asked about his views on God Pullman responded, “I can see no evidence in that circle of things I do know, in history, or in science or anywhere else, no evidence of the existence of God. So I’m caught between the words ‘atheistic’ and ‘agnostic’. I’ve got no evidence whatever for believing in a God. But I know that all the things I do know are very small compared with the things that I don’t know. (Source: Surefish Author Interview November 2002)
Pullman’s bold views on religion have made his popular trilogy His Dark Materials a target for controversy and debate. Many religious groups have called for boycotts of Pullman’s trilogy and the movie based on the first book, The Golden Compass. What is Pullman’s reaction to this: “It’s a foolish thing for the teller of a story to answer critics. If you’re putting forward an argument, you can argue back and demonstrate why your argument is better than theirs. But if someone doesn’t like a story you’ve written, what are you going to say? ‘Well, you should’?” (Source: More Intelligent Life Author Interview 12/3/07)
The American Library Association lists Pullman’s trilogy as one of the most frequently challenged books of 2008, with numerous challenges for, among other things, its “anti-Christian” message. When contacted about the challenges by a UK reporter, Pullman said, “Of course it’s a worry when anybody takes it upon themselves to dictate what people should or should not read. The power of organised religion is very strong in the US, and getting stronger because of the internet.” (Source: Guardian article, 9/30/09).
When asked by a young fan, “How do you respond to the claim that your books are anti-Catholic and promote atheism?” Pullman replied, in part, “In the world of the story — Lyra’s world — there is a church that has acquired great political power, rather in the way that some religions in our world have done at various times, and still do (think of the Taliban in Afghanistan). My point is that religion is at its best — it does most good — when it is farthest away from political power, and that when it gets hold of the power to (for example) send armies to war or to condemn people to death, or to rule every aspect of our lives, it rapidly goes bad.” (Source: MSNBC Today video and article: Pullman not promoting atheism in ‘Golden Compass’)
When another young fan asked if there were an underlying atheism message in his trilogy Pullman replied, “As for the atheism, it doesn’t matter to me whether people believe in God or not, so I’m not promoting anything of that sort…Good things have been done in the name of religion, and so have bad things; and both good things and bad things have been done with no religion at all. What I care about is the good, wherever it comes from.” (Source: MSNBC Today 11/2/2007)