Born on November 10, 1960 in Portchester, England, Neil Gaiman is a bestselling, critically acclaimed writer who made his way in the comics/graphic novel world, becoming known for the groundbreaking series Sandman. A lover of the fantastic and primordial, Gaiman has also penned a variety of book length projects that include Good Omen, Neverwhere, American Gods, Anansi Boys and The Graveyard Book. The fairy tale Stardust was turned into a 2007 movie while the layered novel Coraline became an Oscar-nominated, BAFTA award-winning animated film. In 2017, Gaiman's novel American Gods was also adapted into a TV series on the Starz network.
Background and Early Career
Neil Richard Gaiman was born on November 10, 1960 in Portchester, part of the county of Hampshire in southern England. A voracious reader who immersed himself in libraries growing up, Gaiman eventually worked as a journalist and made his book publishing debut penning a 1984 biography of the British band Duran Duran, followed by a bio on Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams. With influences including Edgar Allan Poe, C.S. Lewis, H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Leguin and Samuel R. Delany, Gaiman found success in the areas of fantasy, horror, speculative fiction, comics and genre blends.
A World of Comics
Gaiman made his graphic novel debut with the 1987 publication of Violent Cases, featuring artist Dave McKean. The two continued to collaborate on the acclaimed DC Comics mini-series Black Orchid (1988), offering up the travails of a resurrected superheroine who is a lavender blend of flora and fauna. Orchid helped to establish a wave of comic titles that had more somber, mature tones with art gallery aesthetics and preceded the 1989 launch of Sandman, an iconic series published by the DC imprint Vertigo. Sandman focuses on the exploits of the title character known as Morpheus/Dream (who is also said by some to bear a resemblance to his real-world creator) and his family the Endless, a group of primordial beings that include siblings Death and Delirium.
The Sandman series, a cornerstone of innovative comic publishing whose issues would also be sold in collected graphic novel form (and whose fans include singer Tori Amos and author Stephen King), ran until 1996 and received a slew of Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, three Harvey Awards and a World Fantasy Award. Gaiman would return to the Morpheus universe in 2013 with the publication of Sandman: Overture, with the collected edition of the series winning the 2016 Hugo Award. Over the years, his additional comic/graphic novel projects have included The Books of Magic, The Last Temptation, 1602, Eternals, Miracleman (also known as Marvelman), Creatures of the Night and Murder Mysteries, an adaptation of a Gaiman short story with art by P. Craig Russell.
Award-Winning, Bestselling Novels
Gaiman eventually entered the arena of book-length fiction, working with fellow fantasy writer Terry Pratchett on the tongue-in-cheek novel Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (1990). Gaiman’s 1996 work Neverwhere, following the intrigues of a London underground society, was the novelization of a BBC mini-series he had scripted which aired the same year. The author then released the book-length fairy tale Stardust in 1999, which would become a 2007 big-screen film starring Charlie Cox, Claire Danes (who is also a fan of Sandman) and Michelle Pfeiffer.
In the 2001, Gaiman published American Gods, another bestseller with an intriguing premise—as seen through the lens of protagonist Shadow Moon, old world deities take on the newer gods of the United States. The follow-up, 2005’s Anansi Boys, showcases the havoc-inducing tensions between two brothers who are the children of the famed trickster god. In 2013, Gaiman released another novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, followed by 2015’s Trigger Warnings: Short Fictions and Disturbances, joining his other fiction collections Smoke and Mirrors (1998) and Fragile Things (2006).
Gaiman has also penned many books for children and young adults, including The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish (1997), M Is for Magic (2007), The Graveyard Book (2008; making history by winning both the Carnegie and Newbery medals) and Instructions (2010). The novella Coraline was published in 2002 and won a host of accolades, including Hugo, Nebula and School Library Journal awards. Coraline was also turned into a hit animated film, directed by Henry Selick with Dakota Fanning voicing the lead character; the project earned more than $124 million at the global box office, along with a BAFTA award and an Academy Award nomination.
'Norse Mythology' & 'American Gods' on TV
In May 2016, Gaiman published the essay collection A View From the Cheap Seats. Around the same time, the anthology series Neil Gaiman’s Likely Stories aired in the U.K., based on a collection of his short fiction. The following year saw the release of a new batch of tales spun from traditional lore—Norse Mythology. Having been inspired by Marvel Comics’ cosmic take on the Norse gods as a child, Gaiman created his own versions of stories showcasing figures like Odin, Thor, Sif and Loki. Norse Mythology debuted at No. 1 on the NY Times hardcover fiction bestseller list in February 2017, remaining a top 10 fixture for weeks.
Gaiman's American Gods was also adapted for television in 2017. The Starz series, starring Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Ian McShane and Cloris Leachman, earned a legion of buzz before its late April launch, with the initial season focusing on the first quarter of the novel. A movie adaption of Gaiman's short story "How to Talk to Girls at Parties," starring Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning and directed by John Cameron Mitchell, is slated for release later in the year. Gaiman is also at work on a follow-up to Neverwhere, tentatively titled The Seven Sisters.
Gaiman has three children with his first wife Mary McGrath. He married singer/songwriter Amanda Palmer in 2011, and they have a son, who was born in 2015.
(Photo credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Starz)
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