“Without stories, we wouldn't be human beings at all": First Editions of Each Volume in Philip Pullman's His Dark Material Trilogy; Each signed by Him

  • His Dark Materials Trilogy: Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass.

His Dark Materials Trilogy: Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass.


Item Number: 81250

London: Scholastic, 1995-2000.

First editions of each work in Pullman’s acclaimed Dark Materials Trilogy. Octavo, 3 volumes, original boards. Northern Lights is the first issue without the Garnegie Medal to the front panel. Each are fine in fine dust jackets. Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife are inscribed by Philip Pullman on the title page. The Amber Spyglass is signed by Philip Pullman on the title page. Cover illustration of each volume by David Scutt. An exceptional set.

A former schoolteacher and an accomplished playwright, Philip Pullman followed several historical and realistic novels with this literate, sophisticated series, "perhaps the most highly acclaimed work of fantasy for young adults published in the 1990s—in part, certainly, because it can easily be enjoyed by older readers as well. The alternative 20th-century world Pullman creates is extremely imaginative, including creatures as diverse as water gypsies, witches and armored bears… The Dark Materials series is filled with moral ambiguity rather than clear-cut didacticism, and readers as well as [protagonist] Lyra must grapple with the difficult questions raised by the story" (Fantasy and Horror 7-311). "Initially… [Pullman] simply planned to infuse his story with Miltonian atmosphere—'the grandeur, the nobility, the overwhelming magnitude of ambition and imaginative power.' Soon, however, Milton's theme, the Fall of Man, crept into the novel… [Pullman explains,] 'My story resolved itself into an account of the necessity of growing up, and a refusal to lament the loss of innocence" (The New Yorker). Volume I, Northern Lights (renamed The Golden Compass for the American edition) earned a 1996 Carnegie Award, "the most prestigious United Kingdom award for children's literature" (Clute & Grant, 791); and the final installment, The Amber Spyglass, became in 2001 the first children's novel ever to win the Whitbread Book of the Year Award.

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