The Secret Commonwealth

Philip Pullman

Illustrated by Peter Bailey

The second book in Philip Pullman’s 'Book of Dust' series, the Folio Society edition of The Secret Commonwealth is beautifully illustrated by Peter Bailey, including a stunning metallic-blocked binding design.

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‘He has created a fantasy world, made yet more satisfying in this new volume and pursued with his own special rigour and stylistic elegance. This is a book for getting older with.’
  1. The Guardian

Twenty years have passed since the events of La Belle Sauvage and Lyra is now a student at St Sophia’s College, Oxford. A mature young woman with strong beliefs and a frequently fraught relationship with her daemon, Pantalaimon, Lyra has become disillusioned and suspicious of the world around her. A multi-layered plot that develops previous characters – such as Malcolm Polstead – and introduces new ones, the second novel in 'The Book of Dust' series bolts at breakneck speed through a brutal murder, international espionage, murky dealings by the Magisterium and a falling out between Lyra and Pan that threatens their relationship and their lives. Series artist Peter Bailey returns with another set of 11 incredible illustrations, while the metallic cloth binding and printed slipcase is designed in series with La Belle Sauvage.

Bound in screen-printed and blocked metallic cloth

Set in Adobe Caslon

576 pages

Frontispiece plus 10 full-page colour illustrations

Printed slipcase

9½˝ x 6¼˝

With 11 full-page colour illustrations, the second novel in The Book of Dust trilogy seamlessly blends art and literature for the ultimate edition of Pullman’s internationally acclaimed series. Peter Bailey’s artwork intertwines with the fast-paced plot and allows the reader to visualise the now-adult world of Lyra and Malcolm. The dramatic binding design is also Bailey’s creation; a scene of foreboding that is blocked in metallic silver to complement the series design.

‘Engrossing storytelling and a vivid portrait of the often painful transition to adulthood and autonomy.’
  1. The Financial Times

The all-seeing and intimidating Magisterium remains Lyra’s hurdle in her quest for the truth, so when a murdered man is found to have been keeping secrets from the religious dominion, she feels compelled to investigate. Her journey is a lonely one; after an argument with Pan, she must travel apart from her beloved daemon who seeks answers elsewhere. Her perilous travels take her across Europe and the East as she dodges those determined to foil her quest, however, her trusted ally Malcolm Polstead is never far behind. The young boy who rescued baby Lyra is now a fiercely loyal man with a strong sense of moral justice and will stop at nothing on the search to expose the truth. Will our trio discover the knowledge before it’s destroyed by those who wish to keep it a secret?

Sir Philip Pullman was born in Norwich and grew up in Wales, though he also travelled extensively due to his father’s work as a pilot in the Royal Air Force. He graduated from Exeter College, Oxford, with a third-class BA in English in 1968 (Oxford later honoured him with a D.Litt. in 2009). As a schoolboy and student he discovered John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the poetry of William Blake, both of which have been significant influences on his own writing. He began publishing children’s fiction while working as a teacher in Summertown, north Oxford, a job he left after the success of Northern Lights (1995; published as The Golden Compass in the United States), the first book in the trilogy His Dark Materials (Folio edition 2008). The trilogy won the Carnegie Medal and, later, the ‘Carnegie of Carnegies’, as well as the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. It has been adapted for stage and TV, and the first book was also the basis for a major feature film. The Book of Dust, another trilogy with some of the same characters and deepening the exploration of Pullman’s ideas, includes La Belle Sauvage (2017; Folio 2021) and The Secret Commonwealth (2019; Folio 2022). Pullman is also known for the Sally Lockhart series and as an editor of fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. He has served as President of the Society of Authors and is a notable campaigner for public libraries in the UK.

Peter Bailey is one of Britain’s best-known book illustrators, who has worked with authors including Allan Ahlberg and Dick King Smith. He is best known for his work on children’s fiction but has also undertaken commissions for adult books – including several commissions for The Folio Society. He was born in India and grew up in London, where his father worked at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Bailey has said that time he spent there as a child influenced his development as an artist. He studied at Brighton School of Art and taught illustration at Liverpool School of Art for 20 years until 1997. Particularly recognised for his long-time collaboration with Philip Pullman, for whose novels he produces extraordinary, intricate ink drawings, he has illustrated Folio editions of His Dark Materials (2008), La Belle Sauvage (2021) and The Secret Commonwealth (2022).


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