|Born:||Neil Richard Gaiman, 10 November 1960, Portchester, Hampshire, England|
|Occupation:||Novelist, graphic novelist and screenwriter|
|Period:||1980s – present|
|Genres:||Fantasy, horror, science fiction, dark fantasy|
|Notable work(s):||THE SANDMAN, NEVERWHERE, AMERICAN GODS, STARDUST, CORALINE, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, GOOD OMENS|
|Spouse(s):||Mary McGrath (1985 – 2007), Amanda Palmer (2011 – present)|
- Main Article: Neil Gaiman
Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman, born as Neil Richard Gaiman on 10 November 1960, is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series THE SANDMAN and novels STARDUST, AMERICAN GODS, CORALINE, and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. He has won numerous awards, including Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, Newbery Medal, and Carnegie Medal. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (2008).
Early Life Edit
Gaiman's family is of Polish — and other Eastern European — Jewish origins; his great-grandfather emigrated from Antwerp before 1914 and his grandfather eventually settled in the Hampshire city of Portsmouth and established a chain of grocery stores. His father, David Bernard Gaiman, worked in the same chain of stores; his mother, Sheila Gaiman (née Goldman), was a pharmacist. He has two younger sisters, Claire and Lizzy. 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 Scientology centre in the town; one of Gaiman's sisters works for the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles. His other sister, Lizzy Calcioli, has said, "Most of our social activities were involved with Scientology or our Jewish family. It would get very confusing when people would ask my religion as a kid. I’d say, 'I’m a Jewish Scientologist.'" Gaiman says that he is not a Scientologist, and that like Judaism, Scientology is his family's religion.
Gaiman was able to read at the age of four. He said, "I was a reader. I loved reading. Reading things gave me pleasure. I was very good at most subjects in school, not because I had any particular aptitude in them, but because normally on the first day of school they'd hand out schoolbooks, and I'd read them — which would mean that I'd know what was coming up, because I'd read it." One work that made a particular impression on him was J. R. R. Tolkien's THE LORD OF THE RINGS from his school library, although it only had the first two books in the trilogy. He consistently took them out and read them. He would later win the school English prize and the school reading prize, enabling him to finally acquire the third book in the trilogy.
For his seventh birthday, Gaiman received C. S. Lewis's THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA series. He later recalled that "I admired his use of parenthetical statements to the reader, where he would just talk to you . . . I'd think, Oh, my gosh, that is so cool! I want to do that! When I become an author, I want to be able to do things in parentheses. I liked the power of putting things in brackets." Narnia also introduced him to literary awards, specifically the 1956 Carnegie Medal won by the concluding volume. When he won the 2010 Medal himself, the press reported him recalling, ". . . it had to be the most important literary award there ever was" and observing, "if you can make yourself aged seven happy, you're really doing well — it's like writing a letter to yourself aged seven."
Lewis Carroll's ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND was another childhood favorite, and "a favorite forever. Alice was default reading to the point where I knew it by heart." He also enjoyed 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 for many years, from 1965-1980 and again from 1984-1987. 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.
Journalism, early writings, and literary influences Edit
As a child and a teenager, Gaiman read the works of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, James Branch Cabell, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison, Rudyard Kipling, Lord Dunsany and G. K. Chesterton. He later became a fan of science fiction, reading the works of authors as diverse as Alan Moore, Samuel R. Delany, Roger Zelazny, Robert A. Heinlein, H. P. Lovecraft, Thorne Smith, and Gene Wolfe.(citation needed)
In the early 1980s, Gaiman pursued journalism, 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 he was 24.
When waiting for a train at 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 had such an impact on Gaiman that he would later write; "that was the final straw, what was left of my resistance crumbled. I proceeded to make regular and frequent visits to London's Forbidden Planet shop 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. Even though Gaiman thought he did a terrible job, the book's first edition sold out very quickly. When he went to relinquish his rights to the book, he discovered the publisher had gone bankrupt. After this, he was offered a job by Penthouse. He refused the offer.
He also wrote interviews and articles for many British magazines, including Knave. During this he sometimes wrote under pseudonyms, including Gerry Musgrave, Richard Grey, and "a couple of house names". Gaiman has said he ended his journalism career in 1987 because British newspapers regularly publish untruths as fact. In 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.(citation needed) Following on from that he wrote the opening of what would become his collaboration with Terry Pratchett on the comic novel GOOD OMENS, about the impending apocalypse.