Philip Pullman (1964-present) International Humanist 2008.
Philip Pullman is the award-winning author of the His Dark Materials trilogy. He was born on October 19, 1946, in Norwich, Norfolk, England, the son of a Royal Air Force pilot. As a youth he attended schools in England, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and Australia. His mother settled in Australia (remarrying after Pullman's father was killed in a plane crash) and Pullman attended high school at the Ysgol Ardudwy school in Harlech, Gwynedd. During these years he discovered Paradise Lost by John Milton, which would become an influence for His Dark Materials.
Pullman attended Exeter College in Oxford, studied English, and received a Third Class BA in 1968. After working several odd jobs, he returned to the Oxford area and taught in various middle schools for twelve years. In 1970 he married Judith Speller. Becoming a part-time lecturer at Westminster College, Oxford, in 1986, Pullman taught students who were pursuing a Bachelor's of Education. There, he had the opportunity to teach courses about the Victorian novel and on the folk tale, as well as a course that examined how words and pictures fit together.
Though best known for his children's books, he has also penned adult fantasy fiction and short stories, which he terms fairy tales. He began his work on His Dark Materials in 1993, Northern Lights (1995, titled The Golden Compass in the U.S.), The Subtle Knife (1997), and The Amber Spyglass (2000). They have variously been honored both in the United States and the United Kingdom, including the Carnegie Medal for children's fiction, the Guardian's Children's Book Award, and the Whitbread Prize for best children's book. In 2002 the concluding volume of the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass, won the Whitbread Book of the Year prize, the first children's book to receive that award. Pullman was announced as joint winner of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children's literature in 2005.
Pullman is a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association and an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society (UK). On his website he says of organized religion:
The trouble is that all too often in human history, churches and priesthoods have set themselves up to rule people's lives in the name of some invisible god (and they're all invisible, because they don't exist)--and done terrible damage. In the name of their god, they have burned, hanged, tortured, maimed, robbed, violated, and enslaved millions of their fellow-creatures, and done so with the happy conviction that they were doing the will of God, and they would go to Heaven for it. That is the religion I hate, and I'm happy to be known as its enemy.
A movie adaptation of The Golden Compass was released nationwide on December 7, 2007, in U.S. theaters. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Liberties called for a boycott of the film, claiming that it "sells atheism to kids." Pullman will be receiving the International Humanist Award at the 2008 World Humanist Congress, jointly sponsored by the American Humanist Association and the International Humanist and Ethical Union, June 5-8, 2008, in Washington, DC.