On This Day: Publishing Anniversary Of “The Golden Compass”

Before Marvel popularized the “multiverse”, Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy discussed parallel universes, starting with “The Golden Compass”!

Book Culture On This Day

His Dark Materials, a young-adult trilogy series by Philip Pullman, encapsulated concepts of fantasy and science fiction through multiverses, advanced technology, and a variety of alternate worlds that we as readers got to explore. The series won a number of awards and recognition for its world-building, and today, Bookstr celebrate the publication date of its very first installment in 1995, The Golden Compass.

What Happens in The Golden Compass?


The Golden Compass takes place in an alternate universe from our own, where we follow the journeys of Lyra Belacqua, a young girl thrown into a search for her missing friend and uncle. Her uncle, Lord Asriel, also happens to be a member of the aristocracy conducting experiments with magical substances known as “Dust”– recognized to be particles that are attracted to the human consciousness.

The setting of the novel is Magisterium, recognized as the universe’s Church and human souls exist outside of their human bodies as animal-like “dæmons.”

His Dark Materials Inspirations and Development

Northern Lights (novel) cover.jpg

The Golden Compass, as well as the entire His Dark Materials series, is well-recognized for its inclusion of parallel universes and concepts regarding religion. For example, the book series’ focus on the church and ideas of Christianity, including ideas of “sin” and “human souls” run rampant in this society. Additionally, Pullman created the series as his own interpretation of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, a poem recounting event of the Bible and concepts of human sin. In fact, the title of the trilogy itself comes from Paradise Lost!

Legacy of The Golden Compass in Pop Culture

The book’s world-building and intense fantasy elements, including witches, spirituality, and magical elements provided Pullman’s novel acclaim from critics, who liken it to other young adult fantasy classics such as The Chronicles of Narnia and A Wrinkle in Time. The Golden Compass won the United Kingdom’s Carnegie Medal for children’s fiction in 1995, and is considered one of the most important modern fantasy works of literature.

Pullman’s novel received many different form of adaptations, including radio and theatre plays based off the series events, and most notably, the 2007 film adaptation, The Golden Compass.” In 2019, the entire His Dark Materials series became adapted into a BBC television series, receiving positive reviews and attention!

For more bookish content, head on back to Bookstr’s homepage!