The Ruby in the Smoke


The Ruby in the Smoke (1985) is a novel by the English author Philip Pullman. This book went on to win the 1987 Lancashire Children's Book of the Year Award.[1] It was also adapted for television in 2006. It is the first of the Sally Lockhart Quartet. It is followed by The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well and The Tin Princess. The book was also adapted for the stage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2016.[2]

The Ruby in the Smoke
Ruby in the Smoke.jpg
First edition
AuthorPhilip Pullman
IllustratorFred Booth
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesSally Lockhart series
GenreMystery, young adult novel
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages200 pp
Followed byThe Shadow in the North 

TV adaptationEdit

A TV film adaptation written by Adrian Hodges and starring Billie Piper was produced by the BBC. It aired on BBC One on 27 December 2006[3] and on PBS's Masterpiece Mystery! as The Sally Lockhart Mysteries: The Ruby in the Smoke on 4 February 2007.[4] The UK broadcast attracted 7.07 million viewers.[5] It is notable as marking the TV debut of actor Matt Smith, who would later take over the role of The Doctor in Piper's former series,Doctor Who.

All four Sally Lockhart books were expected to be adapted for television; however, as of January 2015 no information has arisen regarding an adaptation of The Tiger in the Well.


Actor Role
Billie Piper Sally Lockhart
Julie Walters Mrs Holland
JJ Feild Frederick Garland
Matt Smith Jim Taylor
Hayley Atwell Rosa Garland
Chloe Walker Adelaide
David Harewood Matthew and Nicholas Bedwell
Robert Glenister Samuel Selby
Elliot Cowan Henrick Van Eeden
Miles Anderson Major Marchbanks

Stage adaptationEdit

In the summer of 2016, a stage adaptation written and directed by Madeleine Perham was performed at The Pleasance during the Edinburgh Fringe[6] after receiving Pullman's blessing.[7] Running for the month of August in the King Dome venue, the performance was hailed as a critical success, with the Scotsman stating that the show was 'a compelling tale, and full of surprises, moral ambiguities and people who are other than they seem'.[8] Jane Berg from Three Weeks awarded the show five stars, stating that the show 'was one of the most enjoyable hours I’ve spent at this festival'.[9] Broadway Baby, the local reviews website, stated that the show 'delighted in its Victorian setting' and was an 'excellent piece of storytelling', going on to award The Ruby in the Smoke four stars.[10]

The show was created by new theatre company Reprint Productions (now Escapade), with a cast of six who multi-rolled the numerous characters in the show - Rebecca Lenihan, Sydney Austin, Tris Hobson, Martin Coates, Hamish Forbes and Madeleine Golding (who also served as producer and co-founder of Reprint).[11]


  1. ^ "Lancashire Children's Book of the Year". Archived from the original on 26 June 2007.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 August 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "BBC – Press Office – BBC ONE Transmission Details Weeks 52/1". Archived from the original on 9 December 2007. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Masterpiece | PBS". PBS. Archived from the original on 30 November 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Weekly top 30 programmes on TV sets (July 1998 – Sept 2018) | BARB". Archived from the original on 24 August 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "INTERVIEW: Madeleine Perham". 3 August 2016. Archived from the original on 29 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Theatre review: Philip Pullman's the Ruby in the Smoke". Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Philip Pullman's the Ruby in the Smoke (Reprint Productions) | ThreeWeeks Edinburgh". Archived from the original on 28 August 2016. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Philip Pullman's the Ruby in the Smoke: 4 star review by Fiona Mossman". Archived from the original on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  11. ^[dead link]

External linksEdit

  • (Advertisement for stage adaptation.
  • Pullman's page on the book (
  • Overview and background
  • Review of the book (written at the time of the BBC adaptation), Scotland on Sunday, 10 December 2006
  • BBC mini-site
  • The Ruby in the Smoke at IMDb