"They have got to be written down or they will die."

The Telegraph on Philip Pullman:Fairy tales from the brothers grimm

"I would urge everyone – parents, teachers, uncles, grandparents – to get some of the stories in your head. You will enjoy it and they will enjoy it even more."

When asked whether this included some of the darker elements of the original tales, he joked: "The bloodthirstier the better. Little scoundrels, give them something good."

Speaking about recording oral history or fiction as literature, as storytellers of yore did to preserve folk tales, he warned tales were in danger of dying if left to word of mouth.