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Summary Article: Gaiman, Neil
From Gale Biographies: Popular People

Worked as a freelance writer, 1983-87; wrote television episode “Day of the Dead,” Babylon 5, TBS, 1984; full-time writer, 1987-; wrote The Sandman comic book series, Vertigo/DC Comics, 1988-96; published comic book Black Orchid, 1989; wrote television script (with Larry Henry), Neverwhere, BBC2, 1996; wrote radio script, Signal to Noise, BBC Radio 3, 1996; wrote and directed the film A Short Film About John Bolton, Ska Films, 2002; wrote screenplay MirrorMask, Samuel Goldwyn Films, 2005; wrote screenplay (with Roger Avary) Beowulf, Paramount, 2007; wrote episodes of Doctor Who, BBC, 2011 and 2013; wrote animated series Eternals, 2014. Also published articles in periodicals including Time Out, Sunday Times, Punch, and the Observer Colour Supplement.

Member: British Fantasy Society, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, International Museum of Cartoon Art, Science Fiction Foundation, Society of Strip Illustrators.

Mekon Award, Society of Strip Illustrators, for Violent Cases, 1988; Eagle Award for best graphic novel, U.K. Comic Expo, for Violent Cases, 1988; Eagle Award for best writer of American comics, U.K. Comic Expo, 1990; Harvey Award for best writer, Harvey Awards Executive Committee, 1990; Harvey Award for best writer, Harvey Awards Executive Committee, 1991; Will Eisner Comics Industry Award for best writer, Comic Con International, 1992; Gem Award, Diamond Distributors, 1993; GLAAD Award for best comic, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, for Death: The Time of Your Life, 1996; Lucca Best Writer Prize, Lucca Comics, 1997; Defender of Liberty Award, Comic Legal Defense Fund, 1997; MacMillan Silver Pen Award, English PEN, for Smoke and Mirrors, 1999; Mythopoeic Award for best novel for adults, Mythopoeic Society, for Stardust, 1999; Hugo Award for best science fiction/fantasy novel, World Science Fiction Convention, for American Gods, 2002; Bram Stoker Award for best novel, Horror Writers Association, for American Gods, 2002; British Science Fiction Association Award for best short fiction, for Coraline, 2003; Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award, Wisconsin Library Association, for Coraline, 2003; Bram Stoker Award for best work for young readers, Horror Writers Association, for Coraline, 2003; Hugo Award for best novella, World Science Fiction Convention, for Coraline, 2003; Prix Tam Tam Award, for Coraline, 2003; British Science Fiction Association Award for best short fiction, BSFA, for The Wolves in the Walls, 2004; Bram Stoker Award for best illustrated novel, Horror Writers Association, for The Sandman: Endless Nights, 2004; Geffen Award, Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy, for Smoke and Mirrors, 2004; August Derleth Award, British Fantasy Society, for Anansi Boys, 2006; Locus Award for best collection, for Fragile Things, 2007; Galaxy Award (China) for most popular foreign author, 2009, 2010; Locus Award for best young adult book, Locus magazine, for The Graveyard Book, 2009; John Newbery Medal for the year's most outstanding contribution to children's literature, American Library Association, for The Graveyard Book, 2009; Boston Public Library Literary Lights For Children, 2010; CILIP Carnegie medal for The Graveyard Book, 2010; Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Award For Literature, 2010; Hugo Award, 2012, for episode of Doctor Who entitled “The Doctor's Wife,” 2012; Book of the Year, Specsavers National Book Awards, 2013, for The Ocean At The End Of The Lane.

Born November 10, 1960, in Portchester, England; son of David Bernard (a vitamin company owner) and Sheila (a pharmacist) Gaiman; married Mary Therese McGrath, March 14, 1985, (divorced, c. 2008); married Amanda Palmer, January 3, 2011; children with McGrath: Michael Richard, Holly Miranda, Madeleine Rose Elvira; children with Palmer: Anthony. Addresses: Web

British author Neil Gaiman is best known for writing the popular comic book series The Sandman. He has also written novels, fiction for children, and scripts for television, radio, and film, as well as the occasional nonfiction work. Known for reinventing mythology, history, and cultural icons but with his own revisionist touches, Gaiman received much acclaim for his work. Describing Gaiman, Robert Wilonsky of the Riverfront Times wrote “Gaiman is, in fact, among the most daring writers around--audacious, almost to the point of arrogance. Who else would take it upon himself to rewrite our myths, rescue our gods, and refine and defile history to the point of recreating the entire universe in his own black-clad, pale-faced image?” Gailman's best-selling novel American Gods was adapted into a TV series that premiered on Starz in April of 2017.

Early Life and Career

Born on November 10, 1960, in Portchester, England, Gaiman was the son of David and Sheila Gaiman. His father owned a vitamin company while his mother was a pharmacist. Raised in Sussex with his two younger sisters, Gaiman told CNN, “I was always the weird one. It never occurred to me that I was weird. The lovely thing about being the first child is that nobody has anything to measure against, so nobody knows they're weird.” He knew he wanted to be a writer from an early age and looked up to authors like C. S. Lewis and Michael Moorcock as his heroes. Gaiman received his education at Ardingly College, from 1970 to 1974, then the Whitgrift School, from 1974 to 1977.

Gaiman began his freelance writing career in 1983, primarily writing pieces of journalism for British men's magazines. He published his first book in 1984, a biography of the popular band Duran Duran titled Duran Duran: The First Four Years of the Fab Five. In 1988 Gaiman put out another nonfiction work, Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion. During this period, he married an American, Mary Therese McGrath. In 1992 he left England for Minnesota, where the couple raised their three children. The couple would eventually divorce in 2008.

From 1988 to 1996, Gaiman wrote 75 issues of the comic book series The Sandman. The series was targeted at an adult audience, sold more than a million copies a year, made Gaiman a cult star, and brought him much critical acclaim. Inspired by DC Comics' Swamp Thing as envisioned by Alan Moore, Gaiman used mythology and history, including such figures as William Shakespeare and G.K. Chesterton throughout stories that also featured adult themes and issues of modern day life. Many reviewers believed that Gaiman reinvented the comic book/graphic novel medium with The Sandman. Though he stopped writing The Sandman in 1996, he did write a few more graphic novels featuring Sandman in the early 2000s.

While writing The Sandman, Gaiman began writing other comics and graphic novels. Among the most popular was his 1990 comic miniseries The Books of Magic. This comic focuses on Timothy Hunter, a boy who learns he has great magical powers with the help of four mystery men. Gaiman also wrote graphic novels such as The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch, illustrated by Dave McKean, whom he first worked with on the 1991 graphic novel Violent Cases. The Tragical Comedy is based on the classic children's puppet play Punch and Judy, though Gaiman's version explores its violence through the filter of adulthood.

Wrote Novels for All Ages

Gaiman ventured into traditional fiction, becoming a respected novelist and children's author. His first novel, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, was cowritten with Terry Pratchett, had a comic tone, and was published in 1990. Gaiman then published the best-selling fantasy novel Neverwhere in 1996. This novel focused on a city worker in London who finds a secret world beneath the subway system. Neverwhere was later adapted by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for television, but Gaiman was unhappy with the cheaply produced production.

In 1999 Gaiman found great success with his novel Stardust, based on his 1998 graphic novel Stardust: Being a Romance within the Realms of the Faerie. Stardust, which was originally written longhand with a fountain pen by the author, was a new fairy tale which dealt with common mythological themes such as faeries, witches, and magical creatures. The plot focused on a man looking for a star which fell to Earth so he can give it to the woman he loves.

Of the novel, Gaiman told Rob Elder of the Oregonian, “If anything, I'm a classicist. That's why I enjoyed writing Stardust; it was the joy of creating a new fairy tale.” Critics also praised the novel, with Kurt Lancaster of the Christian Science Monitor noting, “In a literary world that seems so full of Grishams and Clancys, it's delightful to find a fresh tale that evokes not just contemporary fantasy but such otherworldly classics by Spencer and Shakespeare.” Stardust later became a feature film.

By the time Gaiman put out Stardust, he had already published his first children's book, 1997's The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. The story focused on a kid who is often ignored by his father and decides his father is worth only two fish and a fishbowl owned by a friend. The child makes the trade, but his mother demands the return of her husband. The book was extremely well received, and publications such as Newsweek named it one of the best children's books published that year.

Before returning to children's fiction, Gaiman wrote another novel, the critically lauded American Gods, published in 2001. The magical realist, if not surreal, novel covered 20,000 years of American history. Gaiman looked at how the gods and goddesses brought by the many immigrants to the United States felt when they were abandoned and live on as blue-collar workers on the fringes of the modern life in the United States. Reviewing the book in the Edmonton Sun, Robert J. Wiersema called it “a sprawling, diverse and impressive work, drawing skillfully on dozens of mythological traditions, dancing through history and geography with abandon.” Gaiman also wrote and directed A Short Film About John Bolton, released in 2002.

Writings Adapted for the Big Screen

Also in 2002, Gaiman published one of his best-known fiction books for younger readers. Called Coraline, the 162-page novel is the dark adventure tale of a nine-year-old girl who finds a secret door in her new home, a house subdivided into three apartments. When she goes through the door, she finds a mirror image of her home and everyone from her life. This includes another set of parents who look exactly like her own except that they have buttons for eyes. While Coraline is showered with attention and gifts, she longs to return to her own world, but when she does, she finds that her parents are missing. She must save her parents as well as the souls of dead children.

The creative fantasy novel was praised by critics, including Sara O'Leary of the Vancouver Sun who wrote, “It seems to me that a lot of books written for young adults talk down to them. They also quite often seem to be peculiarly humourless. Gaiman falls into neither of these traps. Instead, this is a story you can almost imagine him telling for the sheer joy of it.” Coraline was also immensely popular with readers both young and old, and Gaiman went on several well-attended book tours where he read the book cover to cover for audiences. Coraline was adapted for a film released in 2009 to much critical praise and box-office success.

After Coraline, Gaiman published several children's books, two novels for adults, and saw several film projects reach fruition. For children, 2003's The Wolves in the Walls tells the story of Lucy who knows wolves are in the walls of her family's home but her family does not believe her until it is almost too late. For adults, he published Snow Glass Apples, also in 2003, and the best-seller Anansi Boys, in 2005. The latter was seen as the epitome of the Gaiman novel, set in London but shaped by West African and Caribbean folklore. Anasi Boys contains, as Mike Doherty wrote in the National Post, “ordinary people who become embroiled in extraordinary circumstances, mystic connections between people and places, bizarre dreamscapes where psychic battles are waged, and a preoccupation with the importance of stories.” Gaiman also wrote two screenplays. The animated experimental Mirrormask hit theaters in 2005. With Roger Avary, Gaiman brought the mythical Beowulf to life for film viewers in 2007.

While Gaiman published a collection of short fiction, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, in 2006, much of his printed output consisted of works for younger readers in the early 2000s. Among his books for young readers put out in this time period were 2005's Interworld, 2007's M Is for Magic, and 2009's Crazy Hair. While Interworld was a fantasy novel about a boy who can jump through alternate universes written with Michael Reeves, M Is for Magic was a collection of stories for children. Crazy Hair was written for Gaiman's daughter Maddy who called him “Mr. Crazy Hair.” The picture book consists of a poem about a girl named Bonnie who wants a man to keep his out-of-control hair in line. The man warns her that his hair has been growing since he was two and has any number of people trapped inside. When she tries to comb it despite his warnings, she too becomes ensnared forever. Gaiman won the prestigious Newbery Medal in 2009 for his 2008 book The Graveyard Book, a novel for young readers about a boy who is raised by ghosts.

As Gaiman became a star among young readers, he also began working on comics again and wrote both a musical and a nonfiction book about the mythology of China. Gaiman appreciated his success and his ability to put the projects he chose to work on into fruition. He told Wilonsky of the Riverfront Times, “I'm a lucky writer. I know too many writers, many of whom sell more books than I do, who consider themselves trapped…. I am in this amazingly enviable position, because I write Neil Gaiman stories, and people know that you will get something entertaining, something you've not read before, and you will probably get something that isn't anything like the last thing. And if you don't like it, that's OK, because you'll probably like the one after that.”

Continued Career

Gaiman continued to expand his reach in 2011 by penning an episode of the popular BBC television show Doctor Who. A lifelong fan of the show, Gaiman was excited to write an episode of the long-running series. In an interview with the BBC, Gaiman said of writing the episode, “It was easy, it was like coming home honestly. I don't remember enjoying anything quite as much for years.” The author received a Hugo Award in 2012 for the Doctor Who “The Doctor's Wife.” He again wrote for the series in 2013.

The start of the 2010s also marked a new era in Gaiman's personal life. On January 3, 2011, the author married musician Amanda Palmer in an unplanned ceremony at a friend's home. On his Web site, Gaiman wrote about the event, saying, “Probably getting married in a friend's parlour, with a dozen friends around who weren't really expecting this but who threw themselves into making a wedding for us out of nothing, and a daughter and a son lending their support and love, isn't how everyone would plan a wedding. But we'd been engaged exactly a year, and it felt incredibly right to improvise a wedding as we went along. So we did it. And were as happy as any two people had ever been.” The couple had a son, Anthony, born in September of 2015.

In 2013, Gaiman released the novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which was voted book of the year by the British National Book Awards. The book follows a man who returns to his hometown for a funeral and reflects on the past and the present. As Gaiman continued to produce writings, the cable network Starz announced it had greenlit a television adaptation of his much acclaimed novel American Gods. The show premiered on Starz in April of 2017. Gaiman also released a nonfiction book of history around the same time titled Norse Mythology.

Selected writings
  • Duran Duran: The First Four Years of the Fab Five, Proteus (New York City), 1984.
  • Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion, Pocket Books (New York City), 1988.
  • (With Wolfe, Gene ) A Walking Tour of the Shambles, American Fantasy Press (Woodstock IL), 2001.
  • Make Good Art, William Morrow (New York City), 2013.
  • The View from the Cheap Seats, William Morrow (New York City), 2016.
  • Norse Mythology, Bloomsbury (London), 2017.
  • Novels
  • (With Pratchett, Terry ) Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, Gollancz (London), 1990; rev. ed., Workman (New York City), 1990.
  • Neverwhere, BBC Books (London), 1996; Avon (New York City), 1997.
  • Stardust, Spike (New York City), 1999.
  • American Gods, William Morrow (New York City), 2001.
  • Snow Glass Apples, Biting Dog Press (Duluth GA), 2003.
  • Anansi Boys, Morrow, 2005.
  • (with Reaves, Michael ) InterWorld, Harper Collins, 2007.
  • The Graveyard Book, Harper Collins, 2008.
  • The Silver Dream, Harper Collins, 2013.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, William Morrow, 2013.
  • (with Michael Reaves; Mallory Reaves) Eternity's Wheel, Harper Collins, 2015.
  • Graphic novels and comic books
  • The Books of Magic, DC Comics/Vertigo (New York City), 1990.
  • Violent Cases, Titan (London), 1991.
  • Miracle Man, Book 4: The Golden Age, Eclipse (London and Forestville CA), 1992.
  • Signal to Noise, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukie OR), 1992.
  • The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch, VG Graphics (London), 1994.
  • Angela, Image (Anaheim CA), 1995.
  • Death: The Time of Your Life, DC Comics, 1997.
  • Stardust: Being a Romance within the Realms of the Faerie, DC Comics, 1998.
  • Sandman: The Dream Hunters, DC Comics, 1999.
  • Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame, DC Comics, 2000.
  • Harlequin Valentine, Dark Horse Comics, 2001.
  • Murder Mysteries, Dark Horse Comics, 2002.
  • The Sandman: Endless Nights, DC Comics, 2003.
  • The Eternals, Marvel Comics (New York City), 2007.
  • The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch, Dark Horse Comics, 2008.
  • Coraline, HarperCollins (New York City), 2008.
  • Batman:Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? DC Comics, 2009.
  • Sandman: Game You Titan, 2011.
  • Sandman: Season of Mist Titan, 2011.
  • Miracleman Marvel, 2015.
  • Short stories
  • (With Gentle, Mary ) Villains!, ROC (London), 1992.
  • (With Mary Gentle; Roz Kaveney) The Weerde: Book One, ROC, 1992.
  • (With Mary Gentle; Roz Kaveney) The Weerde: Book Two: The Book of the Ancients, ROC, 1992.
  • Angels and Visitations: A Miscellany, DreamHaven Books and Art (Minneapolis MN), 1993.
  • Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions, Avon, 1998.
  • Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, Morrow, 2006.
  • Who Killed Amanda Palmer: A Collection of Photographic Evidence, Eight Foot Books, 2009.
  • Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, Morrow, 2015.
  • Juvenile fiction
  • The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, Borealis/White Wolf (Clarkson GA), 1997.
  • Coraline, HarperCollins, 2002.
  • The Wolves in the Walls, HarperCollins, 2003.
  • Mirrormask, HarperCollins, 2005.
  • (With Reaves, Michael ) Interworld, Eos (New York City), 2005.
  • M Is for Magic, HarperCollins, 2007.
  • The Dangerous Alphabet, HarperCollins, 2008.
  • Blueberry Girl, HarperCollins, 2008.
  • Crazy Hair, HarperCollins, 2009.
  • Instructions, HarperCollins, 2010.
  • Chu's Day, HarperCollins, 2013.
  • Fortunately, the Milk, HarperCollins, 2013.
  • Chu's First Day of School, HarperCollins, 2014.
  • Hansel and Gretel, HarperCollins, 2014.
  • The Sleeper and the Spindle, HarperCollins, 2014.
  • Plays
  • Murder Mysteries, Biting Dog Press, 2001.
  • Periodicals
  • Age (Melbourne Australia), July 11, 2009, sec. A2, p. 29.
  • Birmingham Post, July 18, 2001, p. 13.
  • Calgary Herald (Alberta Canada), December 9, 1994, p. F11.
  • Christian Science Monitor, February 18, 1999, p. 19.
  • Daily News (New York), March 15, 2009, p. 16.
  • Edmonton Journal (Alberta Canada), August 19, 2001, p. E11; September 21, 2003, p. D12.
  • Globe and Mail (Canada), July 20, 2002, p. D8; November 4, 2006, p. D16; September 8, 2007, p. D22.
  • Journal (Newcastle England), August 13, 1999, p. 28.
  • Los Angeles Times, February 6, 2009, p. E1.
  • National Post (Canada), October 5, 2005, p. B14.
  • Newsday (New York), March 15, 2009, p. C25.
  • Oregonian, January 18, 1999, p. E01.
  • Riverfront Times (Missouri), July 19, 2000.
  • Star Tribune (Minneapolis Minnesota), October 14, 2005, p. 13F.
  • Toronto Star, June 5, 2009, p. E01.
  • Vancouver Sun (British Columbia Canada), July 27, 2002, p. E23.
  • Online
  • 'American Gods' Trailer Arrives With Neil Gaiman's Typical Brilliant Timing,” Washington Post, (March 30, 2017).
  • Awards and Honors,” Official Neil Gaiman Web Site, (August 12, 2011).
  • Biography,” Official Neil Gaiman Web Site, (July 2, 2013).
  • Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?,” Amazon, (August 12, 2011).
  • Congratulations to Newlyweds Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer,” Wired, (August 12, 2011).
  • Doctor Who Interview,” BBC, (August 12, 2011).
  • Fantastic Friends,” Salon, (July 10, 2009).
  • Gaiman Wins Hugo for Doctor's Wife and Teases New Episode,” Doctor Who News, (July 1, 2013).
  • Job Envy: Author Neil Gaiman,” CNN, (July 10, 2009).
  • Neil Gaiman,” Amazon, (August 12, 2011).
  • Neil Gaiman's Journal,” Official Neil Gaiman Web Site, (August 12, 2011).
  • Neil Gaiman Wins Carnegie Medal,” Guardian, (August 12, 2011).
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman Review-Nice Dramatic Narratives, But Where's The Nihilism?,” Guardian, (March 30, 2017).
  • Gale, Cengage Learning 2018

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