Know Your History – 19th October – Philip Pullman born

know your history - writingOn this day… 19th October 1946 – Philip Pullman born

Philip Pullman CBE, FRSL (born 19 October 1946) is a British writer. He is the author of several best-selling books, most notably the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials and the fictionalised biography of Jesus, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. In 2008, The Times named Pullman one of the “50 greatest British writers since 1945”.

On Writing

Want to know how Philip Pullman’s creative process? Well, here it is:

“I’ll get up at about half past seven and take my wife a cup of tea, and have my breakfast at the kitchen table reading the paper. I’ll sit down at my desk at about half past nine and work until it’s time for lunch, with a break for coffee half way through. If I’m lucky I’ll have written three pages by then, and I can fool about with my power tools in the afternoon. If not, it’s back to the desk until the three pages are covered.Philip_Pullman_stories

I write with a ballpoint pen on A4 sized narrow-lined paper. The paper has got to have a grey or blue margin and two holes. I only write on one side, and when I’ve got to the bottom of the last page, I finish the sentence (or write one more) at the top of the next, so that the paper I look at each morning isn’t blank. It’s already beaten. That number of pages amounts, in my writing, to about 1100 words.

When I’ve finished a story I’ll type it all on to the computer, editing as I go. Then I read it all again and think it’s horrible, and get very depressed. That’s one of the things you have to put up with. Eventually, after a lot of fiddling, it’s sort of all right, but the best I can do; and that’s when I send it off to the publisher.”

Did You Know?..

Pullman was a teacher before he became a writer.

“I found my way into the teaching profession at the age of 25, and taught at various Oxford Middle Schools before moving to Westminster College in 1986, where I spent eight years involved in teaching students on the B.Ed. course. I have maintained a passionate interest in education, which leads me occasionally to make foolish and ill-considered remarks alleging that not everything is well in our schools. 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.”


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