HIS novels have sold millions of copies across the globe and sparked a Hollywood film adaptation.

Philip Pullman will mark the beginning of his most popular series of books today, in a special event at the Oxford Literary Festival.

It is almost 20 years since Northern Lights – the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy – was published in 1995.

It won the 1995 Carnegie Medal from the Library Association and was followed by The Subtle Knife in 1997 and The Amber Spyglass in 2000.

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And as the anniversary approaches the author, who lives in Cumnor, will be interviewed by The Sunday Times children’s books editor Nicolette Jones in front of an audience at the Sheldonian Theatre.

Oxford Mail:

Philip Pullman.

It is his first and only appearance at the literary festival this year as illness prevented him from being at the Oxford Martin School earlier this week.

Speaking about the upcoming anniversary of Northern Lights’ publication, Mr Pullman, 68, told the Oxford Mail: “It’s not often a book stays in print for 20 years.

“A big source of pleasure for me is also that it is still attracting new readers. And I like it when people tell me they read it when they were children and then came back to it later in life.”

Northern Lights was Mr Pullman’s first book to feature heroine Lyra Belacqua, a young girl who starts the book living in Oxford, in the grounds of the fictional Jordan College, part of her world’s Oxford University.

Two decades on from its publication, Mr Pullman says his feelings about the book have barely changed: “I would still stand by everything the book says and seems to be meaning.”

It’s not just the Northern Lights that have been dazzling booklovers through the festival. A plethora of stars have come out to celebrate the written word.

Yesterday, explorer Levison Wood was at Corpus Christi College to detail his 4,250-mile trek along the River Nile, now the subject of a Channel Four series.

On Thursday night, acclaimed playwright Alan Bennett sat down with National Theatre director Sir Nicholas Hytner to talk about his life and work, including The History Boys, which was turned into a 2006 film starring James Corden, Russell Tovey and Richard Griffiths.

After the hour-long discussion, at the Sheldonian Theatre, Sir Nicholas was presented with the Bodley Medal, which is awarded to those who have played a major role in the arts, literature, science and communication.

Also on the bill was author and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, who talked at the Oxford Martin School about his latest novel, Grace and Mary, which looks at the effects of dementia.

Oxford Mail:

Melvyn Bragg.

He was joined by biographer Paula Byrne, founder and chief executive of the Bibliotherapy Foundation, which will work with doctors and schools to look into how books can help with conditions such as dementia, depression and anxiety.

The Oxford Mail’s sister paper The Oxford Times is this year’s official regional partner of the nine-day event, due to end tomorrow, with the Financial Times Weekend edition the event’s main sponsor.

Tickets for Mr Pullman’s interview by Ms Jones in the Sheldonian Theatre at noon today cost £6 to £15. Visit oxfordliteraryfestival.org for more information.