In this first part of the "Dark Materials" trilogy, Lyra's friend Roger disappears. She and her daemon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him. Their quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North where a team of scientists are conducting unspeakably horrible experiments.
Philip Pullman was born in Norwich on 19th October 1946. The early part of his life was spent travelling all over the world, because his father and then his stepfather were both in the Royal Air Force. He spent part of his childhood in Australia, where he first met the wonders of comics, and grew to love Superman and Batman in particular. From the age of 11, he lived in North Wales, having moved back to Britain. It was a time when children were allowed to roam anywhere, to play in the streets, to wander over the hills, and he took full advantage of it. His English teacher, Miss Enid Jones, was a big influence on him, and he still sends her copies of his books.
After he left school he went to Exeter College, Oxford, to read English. He did a number of odd jobs for a while, and then moved back to Oxford to become a teacher. He taught at various middle schools for twelve years, and then moved to Westminster College, Oxford, to be a part-time lecturer. He taught courses on the Victorian novel and on the folk tale, and also a course examining how words and pictures fit together. He eventually left teaching in order to write full-time.
His first published novel was for adults, but he began writing for children when he was a teacher. Some of his novels were based on plays he wrote for his school pupils, such as The Ruby In The Smoke. He is best known for the award winning His Dark Materials series, consisting of Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.