Author Philip Pullman has offered to name a character in his next book, the second part of The Book of Dust, after a teenager who died in the Grenfell Tower blaze.
The author – most famous for his epic trilogy of fantasy novels His Dark Materials –auctioned off "the right to name a character in the second part of The Book of Dust" to raise funds for those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire in west London, which is thought to have killed at least 79 people earlier this month.
He said: "the right to name a character doesn’t guarantee that he or she will be good, bad, beautiful or otherwise, but it will be a speaking role with a part to play in the plot."
Pullman made the offer as part of Authors for Grenfell Tower, an online auction raising money for the British Red Cross London Fire Relief Fund.
Teacher James Clements bid £1,500 for the opportunity to name the character in tribute to Nur Huda el-Wahabi, a 15-year-old former pupil of his who died in the blaze.
He put the pledge up on Sunday night, and called for people to support his bid. He said it would be a "pretty cool name for a character", and that it would let her name "live on".
Many others supported his bid, pledging hundreds of pounds towards it.
The bid has raised in excess of £30,000– the most of any lot in the auction.
There are 650 items on auction as part of the charity move, including a Claridges afternoon tea and book reading with David Walliams, and lunch and advice with the CEO of the UK’s largest literary agency. More than £150,000 has been raised in total.
In a statement, the teacher said he had moved away from the area and no longer taught at a local school, but added that "after ten years working there, the community is very special to me."
"I thought the possibility of Nur Huda having a character named after her might be a nice way of remembering her," he said. "The prize is amazing, so I didn’t expect for a moment that my bid would be anywhere near winning."
On Tuesday, Philip Pullman tweeted to thank people for donating towards Clements' bid.
He told The Guardian on Wednesday that having been a teacher once himself, "I know how I’d have felt if a pupil of mine had been in some similar disaster … The absolute injustice of it struck home with me, and must have done with so many others.
"So I’m very pleased to see the success of James Clements’s initiative. I wish I’d met Nur Huda, and I’m desperately sorry she died. I hope the character I give her name to will be someone she’d have liked to know,” he told the publication.
Sara Spary is a consumer business correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Sara Spary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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