Phillip Pullman at Exeter University for Honorary Degree

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Northern Lights, first in Phillip Pulman's Dark Material Trilogy

Whitbread award-winning author Philip Pullman will speak at Exeter University about the ways in which we read, and the connection between stories and pictures. The public lecture Reading in the Borderland is on Friday, January 22 at 6.15pm. He has also been invited to Exeter to be presented with an Honorary Degree at the Winter Graduation Ceremony.

Philip Pullman is most revered for his trilogy His Dark Materials a series marketed to young adults but equally enjoyed by older audiences. The third title in the series, The Amber Spyglass, was the first children’s book to win the prestigious Whitbread Award. And Northern Lights, the first book of the trilogy, won the Carnegie Medal for children’s fiction. In 2007 it was selected by Carnegie judges as one of the ten most important children’s novels of the previous 70 years. It was also adapted for the film, The Golden Compass – the title given to the book on its North American release.

The title of the series His Dark Materials is derived from John Milton’s 17th century poem Paradise Lost.

Dr Martin Levinson, lecturer at the university’s Graduate School of Education told Arts+Culture: “Philip Pullman’s writing bridges adult and children’s literature. As a former teacher, he has remained deeply committed to educational issues, and is a hugely important spokesman in that sphere.”

Pullman’s gift for storytelling made him a popular teacher, alongside the likes of William Golding and Michael Morpugo who made similar career shifts, from teaching to writing. He was awarded the CBE in 2004 and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children’s literature in 2005

Myths and folk tales also interest Pullman who is presently preparing a selection of Grimm’s tales for Penguin Classics. His most recent book, due to be published in March 2010, is called The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.

The lecture is in the Peter Chalk Centre and is free of charge and open to members of the public as well as students and staff. Places are limited and the remaining seats will be on a first come first serve basis.

(Image: Phillip Pullman’s Northern Lights, the first book of the Dark Materials Trilogy. It won the Carnegie Medal for children’s fiction.)