English author Neil Gaiman was born 10 November 1960 in Portsmouth. After living for a period in the nearby town of Portchester, Hampshire, where Neil was born in 1960, the Gaimans moved in 1965 to the West Sussex town of East Grinstead, where his parents studied Dianetics at the town’s Scientology centre; one of Gaiman’s sisters works for the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles.
Gaiman was able to read at the age of four. For his seventh birthday, Gaiman received C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series and by the time he was about ten years old, he read his way through the works of Dennis Wheatley, such as The Ka of Gifford Hillary and The Haunting of Toby Jugg. Another novel that made a particular impression on him was J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings which also inspired his desire to become an author. Narnia also introduced him to literary awards, specifically the 1956 Carnegie Medal won by the concluding volume. Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was another childhood favourite, and He also enjoyed reading Batman comics as a child.
Gaiman was educated at several Church of England schools, including Fonthill School in East Grinstead, Ardingly College (1970–74), and Whitgift School in Croydon (1974–77). His father’s position as a public relations official of the Church of Scientology was the cause of the seven-year-old Gaiman being blocked from entering a boys’ school, forcing him to remain at the school that he had previously been attending. He lived in East Grinstead from 1965 to 1980 and again from 1984 to 1987. He met his first wife, Mary McGrath, while she was studying Scientology and living in a house in East Grinstead that was owned by his father. The couple were married in 1985 after having their first child, Michael.
As a child and a teenager, Gaiman read the works of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, Mary Shelley, Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Allan Poe, Alan Moore, Steve Ditko, Will Eisner, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison, Lord Dunsany and G. K. Chesterton. He was also inspired by Roger Zelazny, Michael Moorcock, Samuel R. Delany, Angela Carter, and R.A. Lafferty Whom he contacted When he was 19–20 years old, asking for advice on becoming an author along with a Lafferty pastiche he had written. The writer sent Gaiman an encouraging and informative letter back, along with literary advice.
During the 1980s, Gaiman worked as a journalist, conducting interviews and writing book reviews, as a means to learn about the world and to make connections that he hoped would later assist him in getting published. He wrote and reviewed extensively for the British Fantasy Society. His first professional short story publication was “Featherquest”, a fantasy story, in Imagine Magazine in May 1984. When waiting for a train at London’s Victoria Station in 1984, Gaiman noticed a copy of Swamp Thing written by Alan Moore, and carefully read it. Moore’s fresh and vigorous approach to comics inspired Gaiman and he began visiting London’s Forbidden Planet to buy comics. In 1984, he wrote his first book, a biography of the band Duran Duran, as well as Ghastly Beyond Belief, a book of quotations, with Kim Newman. he was also offered a job by Penthouse but refused. He also wrote interviews and articles for many British magazines, including Knave using pseudonyms, including Gerry Musgrave and Richard Grey.
Gaiman ended his journalism career in 1987 andIn the late 1980s, he wrote Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion in what he calls a “classic English humour” style. In 1987 Gaiman started writing comic-books, for comic-book writer Alan Moore picking up Miracleman after Moore finished his run on the series. Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham collaborated on several issues of the series before its publisher, Eclipse Comics, collapsed, leaving the series unfinished. His first published comic strips were four short Future Shocks for 2000 AD in 1986–87. He wrote three graphic novels with his favourite collaborator and long-time friend Dave McKean: Violent Cases, Signal to Noise, and The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch. Impressed with his work, DC Comics hired him in February 1987, and he wrote the limited series Black Orchid.
Karen Berger, head of DC Comics’s Vertigo, then read Black Orchid and offered Gaiman a job: to re-write The Sandman. This tells the tale of the ageless, anthropomorphic personification of Dream that is known by many names, including Morpheus and is a mixture of fantasy, horror, and ironic humour. In the eighth issue of The Sandman, Gaiman and artist Mike Dringenberg introduced Death, the older sister of Dream, who would become as popular as the series’ title character and In 1993 DC launched Vertigo with The limited series Death: The High Cost of Living. The 75 issues of the regular series, along with an illustrated prose text and a special containing seven short stories, have been collected into 12 volumes that remain in print, 14 if the Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life spin-offs are included. Artists include Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Jill Thompson, Shawn McManus, Marc Hempel and Michael Zulli, lettering by Todd Klein, colours by Daniel Vozzo, and covers by Dave McKean. The series became one of DC’s top selling titles, eclipsing even Batman and Superman. Gaiman and Jamie Delano were due to become co-writers of the Swamp Thing series following Rick Veitch. However An editorial decision by DC to censor Veitch’s final storyline caused both Gaiman and Delano to withdraw. Gaiman then produced two stories for DC’s Secret Origins series in 1989. A Poison Ivy and a Riddler. A Riddler was originally written for Action Comics Weekly but was shelved due to editorial concerns however it was finally published in 2000 as Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame.
In 1990, Gaiman wrote The Books of Magic, a four-part mini-series that provided a tour of the mythological and magical parts of the DC Universe through a frame story about an English teenager who discovers that he is destined to be the world’s greatest wizard. The miniseries was popular, and sired an ongoing series written by John Ney Rieber. Sadly Gaiman’s adaptation of Sweeney Todd, illustrated by Michael Zulli for Stephen R. Bissette’s publication Taboo, was discontinued. In the mid-1990s, he also created a number of new characters and a setting that was to be featured in a title published by Tekno Comix. The concepts were then altered and split between the titles: Lady Justice, Mr. Hero the Newmatic Man, and Teknophage, Gaiman then wrote a semi-autobiographical story about a boy’s fascination with Michael Moorcock’s anti-hero Elric of Melniboné for Ed Kramer’s anthology Tales of the White Wolf.
In 1996, Gaiman and Ed Kramer co-edited The Sandman: Book of Dreams. This was Nominated for the British Fantasy Award and featured stories and contributions by Tori Amos, Clive Barker, Gene Wolfe, Tad Williams. Gaiman then wrote two series for Marvel Comics. Marvel 1602, an eight-issue limited series and The Eternals a seven-issue limited series drawn by John Romita Jr. In 2009, Gaiman wrote a two-part Batman story for DC Comics to follow Batman R.I.P. titled “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? Referencing the classic Superman story “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” by Alan Moore. Gaiman contributed a twelve-part Metamorpho serial drawn by Mike Allred for Wednesday Comics. Gaiman and Paul Cornell also co-wrote Action Comics #894 featuring an appearance by Death. In 2013, DC Comics released The Sandman: Overture with art by J. H. Williams III and Gaiman’s Angela character was introduced into the Marvel Universe in the last issue of the Age of Ultron miniseries in 2013
Neil Gaiman also collaborated with Terry Pratchett on his first comic novel Good Omens which was published in 1990. The 1996 novelisation of Gaiman’s teleplay for the BBC mini-series Neverwhere was his first solo novel. The novel was released in tandem with the television series though it presents some notable differences from the television series. Gaiman has since revised the novel twice, the first time for an American audience unfamiliar with the London Underground, the second time because he felt unsatisfied with the original. In 1999, Gaiman published his fantasy novel Stardust, which was highly influenced by Victorian fairytales and culture and has been released as a standard novel and in an illustrated graphic novel. Gaiman’s next novel American Gods was published in 2001 and has become one of Gaiman’s best-selling and multi-award-winning novels. Gaiman’s characters from American Gods also Crop up in a short story set in Scotland, which applies the same concepts developed in American Gods to the story of Beowulf.
Gaiman’s next novel Anansi Boys was published in 2005 and deals with Anansi (‘Mr. Nancy’), tracing the relationship of his two sons, one semi-divine and the other an unassuming Englishman, as they explore their common heritage. In 2008, Gaiman published The Graveyard Book which follows the adventures of a boy named Bod after his family is murdered and he is left to be brought up by a graveyard. It is heavily influenced by Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. In 2013 Gaiman published The Ocean at the End of the Lane which follows an unnamed man who returns to his hometown for a funeral and remembers events that began forty years earlier and was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards. In 2017 Neil Gaiman published the novel Norse Mythology.
Gaiman has also written prolifically for television. In 1996 wrote BBC dark fantasy television series Neverwhere and cowrote the screenplay for the movie MirrorMask with his old friend Dave McKean for McKean to direct. In addition, he wrote the localised English language script to the anime movie Princess Mononoke, based on a translation of the Japanese script. He alsomcowrote the script for Robert Zemeckis’s Beowulf with Roger Avary, And has expressed interest in collaborating on a film adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Neil Gaiman was featured in the History Channel documentary Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked. He also wrote the script for the Babylon 5 episode “Day of the Dead. Gaiman’s novel Stardust has also been made into a film starring Charlie Cox, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes, and directed by Matthew Vaughn. A stop motion version of Coraline was released in 2009, with Henry Selick directing and featuring the voices of Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher. Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery Medal winning book The Graveyard Book will also be made into a movie, directed by Ron Howard.
In 2011 Gaiman wrote an episode of Doctor Who, called The Doctor’s Wife Featuring Matt Smith and Alex Kingston which won the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form). Gaiman also appeared as himself on The Simpsons episode “The Book Job” broadcast on 20 November 2011. In 2013 Gaiman wrote another episode of Doctor Who titled “Nightmare in Silver”. A six-part radio play of Neverwhere was broadcast in March 2013, adapted by Dirk Maggs for BBC Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra. Featured stars include James McAvoy as Richard, Natalie Dormer, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Bernard Cribbens and Johnny Vegas. Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods has also been adapted for television. In 2014, Gaiman and Terry Pratchett joined forces with BBC Radio 4 to make the first ever dramatisation of their co-penned novel Good Omens. A television adaptation of Good Omens starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen has also been made in association with Amazon Prime.
Throughout his prolific career Neil Gaiman has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book (2008). In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards.