Interview 16 - Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman, author and Oxford resident

Interviewer: Mark Davies
Editor: David Charles
Total recording time: 37 min : 52 sec


  • Philip was interviewed at his house in Oxford.
Access available in Oxfordshire History Centre and Libraries only

Click on track number below to play

Track Content summary Length
16.1 Philip talks about his fondness for the Oxford Canal and its importance. 3 min : 10 sec
16.2 Egypt, the Oxford Canal, the Fans and Dutch engineers, Asia and Nordic culture were all sources for the ‘Gyptians', the water travellers, who appear in Northern Lights (the first book in His Dark Materials trilogy) and their adventures. 4 min : 56 sec
16.3 In Lyra’s Oxford, Philip uses actual Oxford places but changes their names and other details, writing what he calls pseudo realism. 7 min : 11 sec
16.4 Although an undergraduate at Oxford, Philip admits that the Oxford Canal played no part at all in his life. Since then, however he has plundered it and his books are a way of putting something back 2 min : 3 sec
16.5 Describes his role in the community struggles and campaign against housing developments planned for the Castle Mill, Jericho boatyard site explaining the importance of retaining craft workshops and a working boatyard and drawing a comparison between the way that the campanile tower of the church of St Barnabas surrounded by Jericho and its pockets of industry, terraced houses and canal wildlife did not appear to be valued in the same ways as Canaletto painting in the Ashmolean that features a similar bustling scene. 9 min : 11 sec
16.6 Discusses Guild of St George and Ruskin. 2 min : 10 sec
16.7 Rues the carelessness that led to the building of the controversial Castle Mill student flats (“God awful things”). 3 min
16.8 Supports moves to restore the Oxford Terminus and a canal basin in the city and is critical of Oxford City Council planning record despite being made an Honorary Freeman of the City of Oxford. 1 min : 30 sec
16.9 Philip gives thanks for the Oxford that inspired Northern Lights and promises that Lyra will reappear again. 1 min : 31 sec