I'm deadly serious. I intend to reveal the past, present, and future of each of the ten major books from Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman". If you have not read these books yet, and have always wanted to, but you give in to your urges to cheat just a little, you'll be sorry! I'm not going to give you a second chance: once you've stepped past that HR tag down there, the one that makes the long line under this paragraph, I won't be held responsible! Don't come beat me up just because you had a moment of silly whimsy and decided to read the ending first.
No, I'm NOT KIDDING! Click here or forever hold me blameless.
Ancient History & Myths:
t = 0 : The Endless come to be. Destiny, because he sees all of recorded history, is first, followed by Death, which must come to all things. Dream is the next one born, because before creation there must come imagination. Destruction is fourth, then the twins Desire and Despair, and then the youngest, Delight.
"Aeons ago": A dream vortex causes all of the dreamers in a world to be swept into the same dream. The dream gains momentum and collapses in upon itself, causing irreparable harm to the Dreaming. It is Dream's duty to prevent this from happening again.
Long ago: Dream makes the Gates of Horn and Ivory, as well as his helm, from the corpses of three gods who wish to usurp his power.
At least 80 millennia before modern history: The first Despair dies or is killed, leaving no body. When the Endless come to claim the cerements, the decadent inhabitants of the first Necropolis have not done their job. The Necropolis' charter is revoked, and Litharge is founded, with a similar charter.
Date unknown--probably ancient: Delight becomes Delirium. Several people have suggested that Delight's transformation is a result of the death of Despair, but I can find no solid evidence of this fact.
At least 10 millenia before modern history: Nada rejects Dream's advances, for which he condemns her to Hell. The story of their brief courtship is told in A Doll's House, in the story "Tales in the Sand."
c. 700 B.C.: Orpheus marries Eurydice, but she dies at the wedding, chased by a lustful Aristaeus into a field where she is bitten by a serpent. Orpheus follows her into Hades and makes the Furies weep, but in the end fails to recover her. The Bacchae--also called Dionysians--tear Orpheus limb from limb and his still-living head is thrown into the river Hebrus. Shortly thereafter, Aristaeus dies and is transformed into a raven who serves Dream. At some point, Aristaeus is changed into a man, but "it didn't last."
History (the kind you learned in school)
1273: Marco Polo becomes lost in the desert, and meets Dream. By the strange time dilation properties of the desert he becomes lost in, he is rescued by a freshly-escaped Dream (c. 1988), and returned to his own time and place.
1389: Dream meets Robert "Hob" Gadling for the first time while he and Death overhear him at a pub stating that he has decided that he is simply not going to die. Dream and Death are amused by his assertion, and when Hob promises to meet him in the same pub 100 years hence, Dream agrees.
1489: Dream meets with Hob Gadling on schedule.
1589: While meeting with Sir Robert Gadlen, Dream also grants a wish of William Shakespeare's, that he might write as well as Kit Marlowe. This grant is given as a patronage, and the price is that Shakespeare write two plays for Dream.
June 23, 1593: William Shakespeare's theatre company performs A Midsummer Night's Dream for Dream and the Faerie Court, including Auberon, Titania, and Robin Goodfellow (the Puck). At the end of the evening, Puck decides not to return to Faerie.
1596: Hamnet Shakespeare dies, age 11.
April 23, 1616: William Shakespeare dies, age 52. His last play is the Tempest, commissioned by Dream.
1665: In the year of the Black Plague, Despair and Destruction discuss the nature of change.
1689: Dream meets with Hob Gadling on schedule, and renews the bargain, as usual.
c. 1700: Dream, with The Corinthian in tow, meets with Destruction in London, and discusses the inevitability of total destruction (and the human penchant for helping it along). Shortly thereafter, Destruction calls a family meeting and announces that he is quitting his job. Various known dates (such as the publication of Isaac Newton's "Opticks" and the first known dissection of an orangutan in England) fail to pin this down tighter than five or six years in either direction.
1741: "Mad Hettie" born (by her own claims).
1760: Lady Johanna Constantine is born.
1769: First sighting of "Mad Hettie" on Compton Street.
1789: Dream and Hob Gadling are ambushed (unsuccessfully) by Johanna Constantine.
June 28th, 1794: Dream proposes a business arrangement with Johanna Constantine at her manor in Wych Cross, England. By July 30th of that year, she is liberating the severed (but conscious) head of Orpheus from post-Revolution Paris. September 9th of the same year, Orpheus' head is enshrined at the Greek isle of Naxos.
1802: St. Hilarion's School for Boys founded.
1859: Lady Johanna Constantine dies. September of that year, Joshua Norton, in the grip of Despair, is "taken" by Dream as part of a challenge. Mr. Norton proclaims himself Emperor of the United States.
September, 1864: Joshua Norton meets with Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. "Mark Twain", and gives him the idea to write down "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."
September, 1875: Joshua is tempted by Desire, in hir effort to win the challenge; Emperor Norton declines, and then consults his Chinese subject, Ah How, about whether his choice was legitimate. Desire vows to make Dream spill family blood.
10 January, 1880: Emperor Joshua Norton I dies in a rain storm; Dream wins the challenge posed to him by Desire, Despair, and Delirium. A total solar eclipse marks the day of his funeral.
1889: At the centennial meeting, Hob Gadling dares to suggest that Dream is lonely, and Dream storms off. Hob hollers after him that if Dream should return in 1989, it will be only because they are friends.
1899: "Jim" born in Sydney, Australia.
1903: Rose Kincaid's paternal grandfather born.
1913: While travelling on the Sea Witch from Bombay to Liverpool, Jim, Hob, and an Indian gentleman later revealed to be immortal see a sea serpent. On a port stop in Aden, each confirms that none of them has told anyone ashore about what transpired, because each of them has a secret to keep.
September, 1914: The secrets are revealed at World's End.1
May 31, 1916: In the Battle of Jutland (WWI), Edmund Hathaway dies when his destroyer is sunk (one of eight destroyers lost that day).
June 6, 1916: Convinced that Roderick Burgess can imprison Death with his help (and thereby bring back his lost son), Dr. John Hathaway (curator of the British Museum) gives Mr. Burgess the Magdalene Grimoire.
June 10, 1916: In his attempt to summon and bind Death, Burgess unwittingly captures Dream. With Dream imprisoned, the Dreaming falls into disarray. Unity Kincaid falls into a deep sleep; Stefan Wasserman goes into a state of perpetual waking; other similar maladies strike worldwide.
June, 1920: An overdue stocktaking at the British Museum reveals the loss of certain books. Professor Hathaway comes under suspicion, and commits suicide. A quick spell by Roderick Burgess destroys the incriminating suicide confession.
Spring, 1927: The muse Calliope, former lover of Dream and mother to Orpheus, is captured on Mt. Helicon by Erasmus Fry according to the rules.
November, 1930: Ruthven Sykes betrays Burgess and steals 200,000 pounds, and several of the magical order's treasures, including Dream's symbols of office: the helm, the pouch of dream-sand, and the Materioptikon. Burgess declares magical war.
December, 1930: Sykes sells the helm to Choronzon in return for an amulet of protection.
1932: Unity Kinkaid is raped by Desire, and becomes pregnant with Miranda Walker. Miranda is given away for adoption.
1936: Ethel Cripps betrays Ruthven Sykes, stealing from him both the amulet of protection and the Materioptikon. Sykes explodes as all of Burgess' curses find their mark simultaneously.
1947: Roderick Burgess dies. His son, Alex Burgess, takes possession of Fawney Rig (the manor at Wych Cross) and its basement inhabitant, the Lord of Dreams.
c. 1948: Brute and Glob, realizing their master Dream is absent, abandon the Dreaming for points more corporeal.
February, 1956: Prez Rickard born.1
c. 1960: Hippolyta Hall is born, daughter of the superheroine "The Fury", father unknown. As an infant she was entrusted to a Virginian family, the Trevors.
November, 1974: Prez Rickard elected President of the United States of America. Prez's story is told in the Sandman book "World's End", by a Chinese man looking for a leader. I believe this man to be Ah How, and I believe Boss Smiley to be Desire.1
c. 1981: Rose Walker's father dies, and her brother Jed is given to her grandfather for safekeeping. Rose and Miranda are not informed of Jed's whereabouts, or the fact that his father has died.
Fall, 1985: Rose Walker's paternal grandfather drowns. Jed is given to Clarice and Barnaby, who receive $800 a month to take care of him. They imprison him in their basement. Brute and Glob take up residence in his mind with Hippolyta Hall and Hector Hall. Hector lives out vivid dreams in which he, Brute, and Glob play a heroic team, led by him: "the Sandman."
May, 1986: Richard Madoc buys Calliope from Erasmus Fry in exchange for a trichinobezoar.
1987: Hector Hall dies (but is kept alive in the mind of Jed); Lyta Hall is left single and pregnant.
May, 1987: Madoc's first novel, "My Love She Gave Me Light," nominated for the Booker Prize.
June, 1987: Movie deal for "...and My Love" is in the works. Calliope is still imprisoned.
October, 1987: Neil Gaiman begins work on the Sandman.
Early 1988: Hector Hall marries Lyta. The anachronism goes unnoticed until 1990.
September 14, 1988: Dream slips through the damaged circle of containment and steals a handful of sand from a guard's beach dreams. Feigning collapse, he draws the guards in to open his glass cage. He blows a fistful of sand into his captors' eyes...
He visits the dreams of Mort Notkin, Marco Polo, and then visits Alex Burgess in person. He curses him with eternal recursive nightmares.
A Modern History of Morpheus
Fall, 1988: Ethel Dee (née Cripps) visits Arkham Asylum to visit her son, John Dee, a.k.a. Dr. Dee. Dream contacts the Kindly Ones and asks his three-fold boon; they reveal to him the location of his three symbols of office. He recovers his pouch of sand from John Constantine. In exchange for Constantine's help, he rids John of his persistent nightmares, and places his ex-girlfriend (who was addicted to the sand's psychodysleptic properties) into a peaceful coma, in which she dies.
Winter, 1988: The Sandman goes to Hell and challenges the demon Choronzon for his helm. Dream wins. Choronzon, a Duke of Hell, displeases Lucifer with his humiliating loss, and is given to Agony and Ecstasy. Lucifer swears to destroy Dream.
April 1, 1989: John Dee escapes from Arkham Asylum when he finds out his mother has died. She leaves him the protection charm, and he hijacks a car, chauffered to Mayhew where he intends to remove the Materioptikon from the Justice League of America's cold storage. Dream seeks out Scott Free and the Martian Manhunter to locate the impounded Materioptikon for him. Dream arrives first, but John Dee has tainted it. It knocks out Dream, and while Dream is unconscious, Dee heads for an All-night Diner to wreak mischief. Judy, Donna's girlfriend, is at the diner, and places a call to their mutual friend Rose Walker before Dee kills all the diner's inhabitants. Dee, seeking to destroy Dream, crushes the Materioptikon while they are all in the Dreaming. The pent-up power returns to Dream and enables him to expel Dee, powerless, from the Dreaming. He recreates a Materioptikon to replace the one he lost.
1989: Dream meets Hob Gadling again, in order not to keep a friend waiting.
Late fall, 1989: The events of A Doll's House occur. Specifically: Rose Walker discovers that she is Unity Kinkaid's granddaughter. Lucien completes the census of The Dreaming, final tally 11,062. Dream frees 'Lyta and Hector from Jed's mind, and claims the child with whom she is pregnant as his own, explaining that the baby gestated in Dreams. Jed is captured by the Corinthian, while Rose Walker and Gilbert, in their search for him, end up at the same hotel with the Corinthian and a serial killers' convention. Morpheus shows up as one of the killers is about to capture Rose, and saves her while Gilbert is saving Jed. Dream uncreates the Corinthian and disappears. Rose is discovered to be a vortex of Dream; as such, Dream must destroy her. At the last moment, Unity Kinkaid comes to them in the Dreaming and trades her life for Rose's, explaining that she was to be the vortex, but Dream was asleep, and so the mantle passed to her descendent. Dream kills her instead of Rose. Simultaneously, Unity dies and Jed recovers from the coma he's been in.
March, 1990: Dream shows up to Richard Madoc's house. He curses Madoc with the dubious gift of "stories in abundance" until Madoc frees Calliope. For all intents and purposes, Madoc is insane, until Calliope requests mercy. Dream, uncharacteristically, grants the wish. Calliope asks if she may visit him again, and Dream states that it may not be a good idea; it is possible this implies he has a lover at this point, but there is no evidence in the text to give her a name.
Spring, 1990: Rose Walker's journal reveals that Barbie has divorced Ken and "gone seriously weird," Gilbert has disappeared, and the other housemates have gone about their lives. Dream meets with Desire, and warns her that her attempt to make him spill family blood failed. He warns hir not to tangle with him again, and leaves.
Late fall, 1990: The events of Season of Mists occur: The Endless meet for the first time since Destruction's resignation, and Desire goads and shames Dream into going back to Hell to free Nada. Dream makes preparations to leave; he meets with the assembled company of the Dreaming and prepares them for the eventuality that he may not return. Dream comes to visit Lyta's one-week old son and names him Daniel. His last stop is to meet with Bobby Gadling, toast their friendship, and warn him that he might not come back. Dream goes to Hell, and discovers that Lucifer is closing up shop. Lucifer, in accordance with his previous promise, gives Dream the key to Hell, that it might destroy him. Gods from all the Pantheons come to the Dreaming to petition Dream for the key, in exchange for gifts (or with threats of his destruction). Dream settles the matter according to his conscience, and also rescues Nada, whom Lucifer had evicted from Hell, and who had been trapped within the demon Azazel.
December 17, 1990: "Old boys" who have returned to boarding school from Hell mortally wound Charles Rowland. He dies six days later, on the 23rd.
c. late 1991: The events of A Game of You occur. Barbie's dream universe, originally amplified and tied into the Dreaming when Rose was a vortex of Dream, begins to fall apart. Martin Tenbones shot dead on the streets of New York with at least 11 bullets. Thessaly, Alvin, Hazel, Donna (now known as Foxglove), and George all live in the apartment with Barbie. As Barbie gets sucked into her dream world, Thessaly kills George (who has been interfering) and calls down the moon to transport them all into Barbie's universe to help her. Their trip to The Dreaming to defeat The Cuckoo (and Thessaly's lunar magic) cause Hurricane Lisa to head for New York.2 The Cuckoo is revealed, Thessaly murders a wayward bird, and Dream shows up. As Hurricane Lisa devastates the real world, Dream keeps his promise to un-create Barbie's dream world, made to Alianora--his past lover--long long ago. Thessaly denies that Dream caught her eyes. (Almost) all is mended.
1992: The events of Brief Lives occur. Delirium decides she misses her brother and asks if anyone else in the family wants to go find him. Thessaly leaves Dream because she realizes her love is only a pale reflection of his; because he needs an excuse to visit the mortal plane, he agrees to go along with Delirium. Each of the other Endless refuse to accompany them. Several otherwise-immortal humans die in suspiciously entropic deaths, leading Dream to believe something is trying to stop them from finding Destruction. Meanwhile, Destruction is trying to learn the creative arts. Not surprisingly, his efforts meet with limited success. Nearby, on the island where Johanna Constantine is buried, the Rhodokankis men look after the well-being of Orpheus' head. Morpheus is told by Destiny that he must visit the Oracle to find out where Destruction lives. Delirium briefly channels Delight, her former self, and Dream realizes that he must see Orpheus again. Having spoken to his estranged son, he goes to visit his older brother. After dinner, Destruction retires (permanently) and Dream returns to Orpheus to keep his promise. Dream spills family blood.
1992: The events of The Kindly Ones occur. Dream meets with Hob Gadling, who opines that dream "stinks of" Death, and that he ought to watch out. Rose Walker falls asleep while babysitting Daniel Hall, infant son of Lyta Hall, who is out on a job interview at LUX, the now-earthbound Lucifer's successful lounge. It is the first time she has left Daniel unattended in months. When she returns, Daniel is gone, and Rose Walker--former vortex of Dream--is asleep. Detectives Pinkerton and Fellowes try to console her. When they return with evidence that Daniel is dead, Lyta cracks. Remembering Dream's promise that the child would be his (since it had gestated in Dream), she vows revenge. As things fall apart, the entropy picks up momentum. The Kindly Ones are called in. The Corinthian is re-created, and dispatched with the Raven Matthew to find Daniel (who is still alive). As the Dreaming is slowly torn apart, Nuala considers using her boon to save Dream. Her decision is one minor tragedy against the larger catastrophe.
Finally, we see the Wake. An interesting pun, and a book about closure. The speakers include Calliope, Thessaly, and Mad Hettie. The other attendees include almost every character from every part of Dream's life. Daniel puts in an appearance after the ceremony, and after the cathartic funeral, full of warm remembrances and plenty of crying, all is mended.
January 1996: Neil Gaiman finishes his work on the Sandman. The last panel of the last book depicts Shakespeare's quill, laid aside for the last time.
1. The timing of all of the events at the Inn is subjective: from Jim's perspective, it is 1914, but the Inn clearly moves between time zones, years, decades, and even eras.
2. Various cultural references pin this time down between 1991 and 1992, but Lisa starts with an "L", making it the 12th hurricane that year. Since "Lisa" is on the National Weather Service's rotating name-list for 1992, 1998, and 2004, it seems most likely that this is 1992. There was a Hurricane Lisa in October of 1998, but there was no Hurricane Lisa in 1992. The radio singles from that year, and most importantly Alvin's gravestone, suggest that it is 1991, however.