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Friday, 1 March, 2002, 17:06 GMT
Pullman laughs off 'dangerous' claim
Pullman was the first children's author to win the Whitbread Prize
Pullman was the first children's author to win the Whitbread Prize
Award-winning children's author Philip Pullman has laughed off claims that he is "the most dangerous author in the UK".

His book The Amber Spyglass, the third in the His Dark Materials trilogy, became the first children's book to win the prestigious Whitbread Prize.

However he has been accused of being anti-Christian and he was recently described in The Mail on Sunday as "dangerous".

I know that all the things I do know are very small compared with the things that I don't know; so maybe there is a God

Philip Pullman
The book, which has been translated into 20 languages, follows Lyra Belacqua, a young half-wild orphan girl who is plunged into a fantasy world of good and evil.

But unlike books such as Harry Potter, His Dark Materials explores deeper and darker moral territory.

In The Amber Spyglass, for example, God dies after a great war rages in Heaven.

Pullman, whose grandfather was a clergyman, told the Christian Aid website that he has struggled with his faith.

Pullman's novels have been translated into 20 languages
Pullman's novels have been translated into 20 languages
He said: "I've got no evidence whatever for believing in a God.

"But I know that all the things I do know are very small compared with the things that I don't know. So maybe there is a God out there."

JK Rowling's creation, Harry Potter, has also provoked strong reaction from some Christian groups.

Last December her books were burnt in a bonfire in New Mexico, by people accusing the fictional boy wizard of being the devil.

A number of schools and toy shops have already banned Harry Potter books and merchandise because they fear they will lead children to the occult, while a town in Somerset raised a petition against the film.

In Pullman's The Amber Spyglass, one of the main characters is an ex-nun who has lost her faith.

He said: "Wherever you see organised religion and priesthoods and power, you see cruelty and tyranny and repression. It's almost a universal law.

Success

"It's not just Christianity I'm getting at. The reason that the forms of religion in the books seem to be Christian is because that's the world I'm familiar with."

More than 1.5 million books have been sold and a stage play and film based on the series are in production.

The Christian Herald also attacked his books, saying they were worthy of bonfires, but Pullman said: "My response to that was to ask the publishers to print it in the next book, which they did.

"I think it's comical, it's just laughable."

Pullman's novel I Was A Rat was turned into a TV mini-series starring Tom Conti in 2001.

See also:

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