Neil Richard Gaiman was born in Portchester, Hampshire, England on November 10th, 1960 and from a very early age acquired a love of books, becoming an avid reader from the age of 4, preferring to spend his leisure time in a library than pursuing other pastimes, often spending an entire day there. Among his favorite authors during his childhood were J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Edgar Allen Poe, James Branch Cabell, Michael Moorcock, Gene Wolfe, G.K. Chesterton and Ursula K. LeGuin. While he had a distinct love of the written word, Gaiman also discovered comic books, an interest that became a passion in later years.
Gaiman’s love of reading gave wings to his dream of becoming an author and at around the age of 20 he made contact with R.A. Lafferty, a science fiction writer that he had discovered at the age of 9. Gaiman wrote asking Lafferty for advice about becoming an author and included a piece he had written. He was pleased to receive a letter of response in return, encouraging him to pursue his dream, with some sound literary advice included.
Gaiman began writing when he started his career in the early 1980’s as a journalist, his work mainly consisting of writing book reviews and conducting interviews. His aim was to build up connections that could serve him well in his future by helping him gets published. During this time he also wrote and reviewed for the British Fantasy Society as well as other magazines, often using pseudonyms. His first published professional work, Featherquest, was a short fantasy story in Imagine Magazine.
In 1984 Gaiman’s first book, a rock and roll biography of music band Duran Duran, was published, taking him just three months to write. In later years Gaiman was quoted as saying that he only wrote the book to make money and that it was the worst thing he had ever written. The book is now out of print and Gaiman has taken steps to ensure it never gets printed again. Around the same time as the Duran Duran biography was published, Gaiman collaborated with Kim Newman to write a book of quotations titled Ghastly Beyond Belief. Gaiman was also offered a job writing for Penthouse magazine which he turned down.
Gaiman went on to write a second book in the late 1980’s, Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion, and in 1987 he decided to quit journalism due to his belief that British newspapers were often guilty of publishing known untruths. Gaiman began work in collaboration with fantasy fiction author Terry Pratchett, on Good Omens, a comic novel.
Gaiman collaborated with his long-time friend David “Dave” McKean, an accomplished author and illustrator, to write three graphic novels: Violent Cases, Signal to Noise, and The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch. Gaiman’s talent as a writer drew attention from DC Comics, who offered him a job in February 1987. During this time he and McKean wrote the series Black Orchid, a follow on from Violent Cases. DC Comic’s Karen Berger read Black Orchid and offered Gaiman the opportunity to re-write one of their old characters, The Sandman, with permission to add his own spin.
The Sandman fantasy horror series ran for 75 issues, picking up a number of US awards along the way, including three Harvey awards and nine Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. In 1991 Sandman made history, becoming the first comic ever to receive the literary award World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story.
Gaiman’s career as a creator of comic book stories has turned him into what some would describe as an iconic cultural figure, and he became one of the first writers to build a successful blog, amassing over a million readers.
Gaiman has used his considerable story-telling talent to write books for children as well as adults. His collaboration with illustrator Dave McKean has produced several since their first project together. Gaiman has also written screenplays, written and directed two films, and wrote an episode for the television series “Dr. Who” in 2011.
Gaiman has on occasion performed public readings of his work and may continue to do so. He is married to Amanda Palmer, a musician and songwriter, and has three children with his first wife, Mary McGrath, and a son with Amanda. Gaiman and his family live in Wisconsin, USA.