Neil Gaiman

English Author

Neil Gaiman is a renowned author and journalist who is popularly known for The Sandman series, which ran in DC Comics in the early 1990s. He is also highly appreciated for his other works, including Good Omens, American Gods, The Graveyard Book, Stardust, and Coraline.

Life Facts

  • Neil Richard Gaiman was born on November 10, 1960, in Portchester, Hampshire, England.
  • Gaiman began his writing career in the 1980s.
  • His first-author credit came for a biography book on the English New Wave band, Duran Duran.
  • Gaiman’s comic book seriesThe Sandman was one of the top-selling titles at DC Comics.
  • Gaiman’s most popular works include American Gods, Good Omens (co-written with Terry Pratchett), The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Graveyard Book, Neverwhere, Stardust, and Coraline.

Interesting Facts

  • Neil Gaiman was part of a punk band called the Ex-Execs where they performed Stepping Stone when he was 16 years old.
  • Gaiman believes that every book has a gender.
  • Gaiman loves cooking. His specialty is Crumble.
  • Gaiman began a comic book in 1976 with his friends. He interviewed science fiction writer Michael Moorcock for the comic.
  • After using a fountain pen to write the first draft of Stardust (to capture the spirit of the 1920s), Gaiman now uses fountain pens for all of his first drafts.

Famous Books by Neil Gaiman

American Gods – This is the most celebrated work of Neil Gaiman’s. American Gods follows the story of Shadow, a convict fresh out of prison who is recruited by a strange person called Wednesday. The premise of the story (that Gods need people to invent and worship them) – is unraveled slowly and carefully through the novel as Shadow takes a peculiar road trip across the country.

Good Omens – Co-authored by Terry Pratchett, Good Omens has gained immense critical acclaim in literary circles. It is a supernatural comedy novel that begins as a parody of the supernatural horror film by Richard Donner, The Omen, and follows the story of an angel and a devil. The protagonists of the story are in charge of looking after the spawn of the devil as he grows up, and in the meantime, they also observe how the earth changes and transforms over the years.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – This Neil Gaiman story revolves around a middle-aged British man who returns to his hometown, Sussex for a funeral. He ends up reliving many childhood memories as he drives through the nostalgic pathways of Sussex. The main attraction for this man is the Hempstock Farmhouse which housed three generations of powerful and strange women.

Stardust – Stardust follows the story of a male protagonist, Tristan who is unable to secure the hand of his beloved. In an attempt to redeem himself in her eyes, Tristan vows to capture a fallen star for her. He does not back down even when he realizes that the star is a woman. Tristan then progresses to drag the star across the land back to the village of Wall.

The Graveyard Book – The Graveyard Book is one of Neil Gaiman’s most famous works of children’s literature. It follows the story of young Bod, who is left alone in a graveyard after the tragic murder of his family. Bod is then raised by the ghosts and ghouls of the graveyard in an exciting tale of supernatural wonders.

Coraline – Coraline was Neil Gaiman’s first work of children’s literature. Written as a novella, the story follows young Coraline Jones who discovers a strange corridor in her house one day. Upon following the corridor, she is let into a parallel universe much like her own, where an evil Other Mother is bent upon taking Coraline’s soul for her own.

Early Life and Writing Career

Born on November 10, 1960, in Portchester, Hampshire, England, Neil Gaiman was raised by a father who was the public relations officer at the Church of Scientology in the UK. As a result of the church’s social activities, Gaiman and his family moved around a lot. This resulted in Gaiman hopping from one school to another. He thus received education at different Church of England schools, including Fonthill School, Ardingly College, and Whitgift School.

Gaiman describes himself as a “feral child who was raised in libraries.” He owes his love for reading to the librarians who helped him understand interlibrary loans and pick the right books. He began his writing career as a journalist in the 1980s, during which time he interviewed famous personalities like Terry Jones, Rik Mayall, Divine, and Richard O’Brien. In 1984, he published his first short story titled Featherquest in Imagine Magazine. In the same year, Gaiman published his first book, a biography of the New English Wave band Duran Duran. The book sold out almost as soon as it was published. Gaiman also brought out a book of quotations, Ghastly Beyond Belief with Kim Newman around the same time.

In the late 1980s, Gaiman ended his writing career because he was troubled with the British newspapers regularly publishing “untruths.” This was during the same time that he published Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion. The legendary graphic novel Sandman series was Gaiman’s next project, and the series proved to be his major breakthrough in his literary career. The novel ran for 75 issues and won several awards, including the first-ever literary award received by a comic, The World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story in 1991.

Later Life

As an established writer, Gaiman began producing literary works that spanned several genres. This includes popular titles such as Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, and Anansi Boys. Most of these works received a great number of literary nominations and awards, and each of them has contributed to Neil Gaiman’s fame as one of the most accomplished post-modern writers of the world.

Gaiman has also dabbled in short fiction, with his first collection of short stories, Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions being nominated as the best short story collection at the UK’s Macmillan Silver Pen Awards in 1998. He also brought out another collection of short stories called Fragile Things in 2006. He has continued to write short stories, with his immensely popular The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains appearing in Stories – which he co-edited with Al Sarrantonio.

Gaiman is also known for his works in children’s literature, most notably Coraline which was published in 2002. The novella won numerous awards, including the British Science Fiction Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Nebula and Hugo awards as well as the American Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla award. His children’s literature also includes The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two GoldfishThe Wolves in the WallsThe Graveyard Book, M is for Magic. One of his more recent novels, InterWorld (co-authored by Michael Reeves), is a science fiction novel written for young adults.

Gaiman’s repertoire also consists of Crazy Hair, which was illustrated by Dave McKean and shortlisted for Greenaway, as well as The Dangerous Alphabet which was illustrated by Gris Grimly. Gaiman also published the children’s literature Blueberry Girl and Instructions in 2009 and 2010 respectively, both of which were illustrated by Charles Vess. He also wrote a story for World Book Day in 2009 titled Odd and the Frost Giants, which has been positively received in the literary world.

Amongst all of these works, The Graveyard Book is one of Neil Gaiman’s most celebrated works. Gaiman won both the Carnegie Medal and the Newbery Medal for this book. The book was also shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway medal for the illustrations provided by Chris Riddell at the same time. The Graveyard Book was immensely popular in the UK, where it won the Booktrust Prize for Teenage Fiction as well as in the US, where it won the highest honor for children’s literature, the Newbery medal. The novel has won the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the Locus Young Adult Award as well.

Gaiman has dabbled in film and television as well, having written the screenplay for Neverwhere, a BBC original series in 1996. In 2005, he also wrote the script for Mirrormask which was Dave McKean’s first feature film, and co-wrote Beowulf for Robert Zemeckis.

Gaiman was the producer of Stardust, which is a film by Matthew Vaughan based on Gaiman’s own book. He has also written and directed films as well, including the 2002 movie, A Short Film About John Bolton, and the 2008 movie Statuesque.

Influence from other Writers

Neil Gaiman has admitted to being inspired by diverse writers from across the ages. This includes Roger Zelazny, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Mary Shelley, Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling, Dave Sim, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Moorcock, Steve Ditko, Alan Moore, Will Eisner, Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. Le Guin, Lord Dunsany, G.K Chesterton, Angela Carter, R. A Lafferty, and Samuel R. Delany. He has also been influenced by Monty Python’s Big Red Book and French comic series, Metal Hurlant.

Literature by Neil Gaiman

Explore literature by Neil Gaiman below, created by the team at Book Analysis.