Author Philip Pullman, best known for the children's fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, is to be awarded the Freedom of Oxford.

Mr Pullman, who lives in Cumnor and has published more than 20 books, will receive the rare honour for his literary work at a ceremony in Oxford Town Hall later this month.

Describing Oxford as his "inspiration", he joins a select list of just five modern-day recipients of the honour, which is purely honorary and carries no special privileges.

Mr Pullman said: "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."

Mr Pullman cites John Milton's seminal novel Paradise Lost as a major influence on his work. The first volume of the Dark Materials trilogy, Northern Lights, won the Carnegie Medal for children's fiction in 1995 and The Amber Spyglass, the last volume, was awarded the 2001 Whitbread Book of the Year prize in 2002.

The trilogy has sold nine million copies worldwide and is being made into a film due for release later this year called The Golden Compass, starring James Bond actor Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman.

Oxford Lord Mayor Jim Campbell, said: "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."