I heard late yesterday evening that Philip Pullman has won the rare accolade of being given the Freedom of Oxford. According to the news story, he joins just five other modern-day recipients of this purely honorary "award". Oxford Lord Mayor Jim Campbell, says:
Oxford has an astonishingly rich tradition of children's story telling and Philip Pullman is a worthy successor to Lewis Carroll and C S Lewis. His Dark Materials is one of the finest imaginative works in English. While it creates and explores new worlds and new systems its roots are in Oxford and we are pleased to be able to confer the Freedom of Oxford on someone who has given so much enjoyment to children, and adults, all over the world.
Pullman, who will receive the honour at a ceremony at the Town Hall later this month, says:
I am delighted and honoured to receive the Freedom of Oxford, the city which has been the inspiration for a great deal of my work. Oxford is a city that is steeped in storytelling. It's a place where the past and the present jostle each other on the pavement and while of course that's true of many cities in Britain, Oxford does seem to have a few extra dimensions in some strange way. I am immensely gratified the city I've made my home has found my work worth rewarding, and very proud to receive an honour whose history goes back to the craftsmen and merchants of the Middle Ages - and which is held by a few very distinguished people of today.
In some ways, this is going to be Philip's year since the film of the first book of the His Dark Materials series, The Golden Compass, is out at the cinemas in December this year, and The Shadow in the North (sequel to The Ruby in the Smoke which aired in late December 2006) is also in production.
Congratulations Philip !