"We're used to the kingdom of heaven; but you can tell from the general thrust of the book that I'm of the devil's party, like Milton. And I think it's time we thought about a republic of heaven instead of the kingdom of heaven. The king is dead. That's to say I believe that the king is dead. I'm an atheist. But we need heaven nonetheless, we need all the things that heaven meant, we need joy, we need a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives, we need a connection with the universe, we need all the things that the kingdom of heaven used to promise us but failed to deliver. And, furthermore, we need it in this world where we do exist-- not elsewhere, because there ain't no elsewhere." -- The Republic of Heaven Speech
Philip Pullman is a contemporary British author of children’s books, and without doubt one of the greatest writers of all time. He has been a teacher, storyteller and writer, but he is careful to describe his occupation as a “writer of stories”. His writings and speeches all reflect his passionate appreciation for the power of a good story. He elaborates on his view of the writer’s craft in an autobiographical essay included as part of a website created and maintained by his publisher in the United States (Alfred A. Knopf):
“I was sure that I was going to write stories myself when I grew up. It’s important to put it like that: not ‘I am a writer,’ but rather ‘I write stories.’ If you put the emphasis on yourself rather than your work, you’re in danger of thinking that you’re the most important thing. But you’re not. The story is what matters, and you’re only the servant, and your job is to get it out on time and in good order.”
Pullman has written for a variety of audiences in his twenty-year writing career. His writings include several adaptations of classic novels as plays, several books for children, a work of nonfiction, one novel for adults and nine books for young adults. His works for young adults include a series of four mystery/adventure novels set in Victorian England and featuring a sixteen year old girl as the protagonist. However, his greatest masterwork is the fantasy trilogy collectively titled His Dark Materials.