Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Pullman, Philip

(1946-    ) UK writer, most significantly of YA fiction, though his first novel, Galatea (1978), was for adults, and his second – Count Karlstein, or The Ride of the Demon Huntsman (1982), which features a Wild Hunt conducted by a Demon – was for children. His YA work tends to straddle genres; for instance, his sequence comprising The Ruby in the Smoke (1985), The Shadow in the Plate (1987; vt The Shadow in the North 1988 US) and The Tiger in the Well (1990 US), set in a 19th century London, is told overall as a Gaslight Romance, but the first volume is predominantly Horror, the second could be considered Steampunk, and the third is "realistic", though its villain is named Tzaddik, a figure out of the Cabbala. Spring-Heeled Jack (1989) treats Spring-Heeled Jack as a kind of Robin Hood who uses his Talents to help the poor.

The first volume of His Dark MaterialsNorthern Lights (1995; vt The Golden Compass 1996 US) – has been well received, gaining a 1996 Carnegie Award, the most prestigious UK award for children's literature. The projected trilogy, intended to reflect elements of John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667), begins in an Alternate-World version of the 20th-century UK, marked by a differing physics and the fact that everyone has a Companion who seems to be a kind of Demon. As each child passes through the Rite of Passage into adulthood, her/his demon, which has previously shapeshifted (> Shapeshifters) at will, freezes into a shape that Mirrors its human's mature selfhood. The first volume, a complicated plot-driven Quest, fuels expectations of a significant full tale. [JC]

other works: Frankenstein (1990), a play adapted from Mary Shelley; Sherlock Holmes and the Limehouse Horror (1992); The New Cut Gang: Thunderbolt's Waxwork (1994); The Tin Princess (1994); The Wonderful Story of Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp (1994 chap).

Philip Nicholas Pullman

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.