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Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman (born Neil Richard Gaiman, 10 November 1960) is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre, and films. His works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He 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.
Early life Edit
Gaiman's family is of Polish Jewish and other Eastern European Jewish origins; his great-grandfather emigrated from Antwerp, Belgium, to the UK before 1914 and his grandfather eventually settled in the south of England 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. About his personal views, Gaiman has stated, "I think we can say that God exists in the DC Universe. I would not stand up and beat the drum for the existence of God in this universe. I don't know, I think there's probably a 50/50 chance. It doesn't really matter to me."
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." When he was about ten years old, he read his way through the works of Dennis Wheatley, where especially The Ka of Gifford Hillary and The Haunting of Toby Jugg made an impact on him. 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 volumes of the novel. 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 volume.
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 Gaiman 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 favourite, and "a favourite 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 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.
In a collaboration with author Terry Pratchett, best known for his series of Discworld novels, Gaiman's first novel Good Omens was published in 1990. In 2011 Pratchett said that while the entire novel was a collaborative effort and most of the ideas could be credited to both of them, Pratchett did a larger portion of writing and editing if for no other reason than Gaiman's scheduled involvement with Sandman.
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, first printings of his fantasy novel Stardust were released. The novel has been released both as a standard novel and in an illustrated text edition. This novel was highly influenced by Victorian fairy tales and culture.
American Gods became one of Gaiman's best-selling and multi-award-winning novels upon its release in 2001. A special 10th Anniversary edition was released, with the "author's preferred text" 12,000 words longer than the original mass-market editions.
Gaiman has not written a direct sequel to American Gods but he has revisited the characters. A glimpse at Shadow's travels in Europe is found in a short story which finds him in Scotland, applying the same concepts developed in American Gods to the story of Beowulf. Another follow-up short story, "Black Dog," was released in 2015. The 2005 novel Anansi Boys 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. It debuted at number one on The New York Times Best Seller list.
In late 2008, Gaiman released a new children's book, The Graveyard Book. It 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. As of late January 2009, it had been on The New York Times Bestseller children's list for fifteen weeks.
In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards. The novel follows an unnamed man who returns to his hometown for a funeral and remembers events that began forty years earlier. Themes include the search for self-identity and the "disconnect between childhood and adulthood".
In September 2016, Neil Gaiman announced that he had been working for some years on retellings of Norse mythology. Norse Mythology was released in February 2017.
Film and screenwriting Edit
Gaiman wrote the 1996 BBC dark fantasy television series Neverwhere. He 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 cowrote the script for Robert Zemeckis's Beowulf with Roger Avary, a collaboration that has proved productive for both writers. Gaiman has expressed interest in collaborating on a film adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh.
He was the only person other than J. Michael Straczynski to write a Babylon 5 script in the last three seasons, contributing the season five episode "Day of the Dead".
Gaiman has also written at least three drafts of a screenplay adaptation of Nicholson Baker's novel The Fermata for director Robert Zemeckis, although the project was stalled while Zemeckis made The Polar Express and the Gaiman-Roger Avary written Beowulf film.
Neil Gaiman was featured in the History Channel documentary Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked.
Several of Gaiman's original works have been optioned or greenlighted for film adaptation, most notably Stardust, which premiered in August 2007 and stars Charlie Cox, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Claire Danes, directed by Matthew Vaughn. A stop-motion version of Coraline was released on 6 February 2009, with Henry Selick directing and Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher in the leading voice-actor roles.
In 2007, Gaiman it was announced that after ten years in development, the feature film of Death: The High Cost of Living would finally begin production with a screenplay by Gaiman that he would direct for Warner Independent. Don Murphy and Susan Montford are the producers, and Guillermo del Toro is the film's executive producer. By 2010 it had been reported that it was no longer in production.
Seeing Ear Theatre performed two of Gaiman's audio theatre plays, "Snow, Glass, Apples", Gaiman's retelling of Snow White and "Murder Mysteries", a story of heaven before the Fall in which the first crime is committed. Both audio plays were published in the collection Smoke and Mirrors in 1998.
Gaiman's 2009 Newbery Medal winning book The Graveyard Book will be made into a movie, with Ron Howard as the director.
Gaiman wrote an episode of the long-running BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, broadcast in 2011 during Matt Smith's second series as the Doctor. Shooting began in August 2010 for this episode, the original title of which was "The House of Nothing" but which was eventually transmitted as "The Doctor's Wife". The episode won the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form). Gaiman made his return to Doctor Who with an episode titled "Nightmare in Silver", broadcast on 11 May 2013.
In 2011, it was announced that Gaiman would be writing the script to a new film version of Journey to the West.
Gaiman appeared as himself on The Simpsons episode "The Book Job", which broadcast on 20 November 2011.
In 2015, Starz greenlighted a series adaptation of Gaiman's novel American Gods.
Blog and Twitter Edit
In February 2001, when Gaiman had completed writing American Gods, his publishers set up a promotional website featuring a weblog in which Gaiman described the day-to-day process of revising, publishing, and promoting the novel. After the novel was published, the website evolved into a more general Official Neil Gaiman Website.
Gaiman generally posts to the blog describing the day-to-day process of being Neil Gaiman and writing, revising, publishing, or promoting whatever the current project is. He also posts reader emails and answers questions, which gives him unusually direct and immediate interaction with fans. One of his answers on why he writes the blog is "because writing is, like death, a lonely business."
The original American Gods blog was extracted for publication in the NESFA Press collection of Gaiman miscellany, Adventures in the Dream Trade.
To celebrate the seventh anniversary of the blog, the novel American Gods was provided free of charge online for a month.
Gaiman is an active user of the social networking site Twitter with over 2.7 million followers as of June 2018, using the username @neilhimself. In 2013, Gaiman was named by IGN as one of "The Best Tweeters in Comics", describing his posts as "sublime." Gaiman also runs a Tumblr account on which he primarily answers fan questions.