(13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990)
Roald Dahl was a British author and fighter pilot who fought in the Second World War. Dahl wrote a total of 19 children’s books throughout his decades-long writing career, earning several awards and his books selling more than 250 million copies worldwide. His accolades includes 1983’s New York Times Outstanding Book award for The Witches, 1983’s World Fantasy Convention Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as a children’s author, 1988’s The Federation of Children’s Book Groups award for Matilda, 2000’s Millennium Children’s Book award for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and many more.
Dahl was inspired to become a children’s author from telling his children nightly bedtime stories. As a matter of fact, he tested some of his future successful children’s stories on them and they’d provide him with honest feedback when they would start to lose interest.
Here are 10 pieces of trivia about the life of Mr Roald Dahl:
- He was described as a ‘mischievous, lively and imaginative youngster’.
- While serving in the Mediterranean during World War II, Dahl crash-landed in Egypt and suffered serious injuries to his skull, spine and hip.
- Dahl published his first-ever short story in the Saturday Evening Post, based on his flying experiences.
- Dahl’s first ever story for children was called, The Gremlins. It was written in 1942 for Walt Disney.
- The character ‘Sophie’ from BFG is named after his granddaughter, Sophie Dahl, an English fashion model and author.
- The novel BFG is dedicated to his daughter, Olivia Twenty, who sadly passed from Measles at 7 years old.
- He wrote the screenplays for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (with Ken Hughes) and You Only Live Twice (James Bond film).
- It took several years for Dahl to find a UK publisher for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
- He spent four hours a day writing stories in his garden shed (with his own hip bone used as the door handle). He banned his children from entering, telling them that wild wolves were inside.
- On Friday 23rd November 1990 at the age of 74, Roald Dahl passed away from a rare blood cancer (Myelodysplastic Syndrome). He requested to be buried with all of his favourite things: pool cues, a bottle of Burgundy wine, a power saw, HB pencils and chocolate.
5 Splendiferous Quotes
- ‘Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’ – The Minpins (1991) (This sentence comes from Dahl’s last children’s story and it is the very last line of the book.)
- ‘It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.’ – The Witches (1983)
- ‘The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.’ – Matilda (1988)
- ‘However small the chance might be of striking lucky, the chance was there.’ – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)
- ‘Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.’ – Roald Dahl
Like many others, Roald Dahl was a huge contribution to my childhood. I had many of his books at home and studied them in primary school. One of my earliest memories about Dahl’s books was when our class was reading The Witches in Year 3, and we would use break times and assemblies to argue which of our teachers were really “witches”. It didn’t help that they used to scare us by placing their hand on the top of their head and rubbing their crown to make their hairline move as though they were wearing wigs, or by wearing gloves while they were teaching.
Why Roald Dahl is one of my favourite children’s writers
- He is very funny, from the witty dialogue to the bizarre situations his characters find themselves in.
- He doesn’t “dumb down” his writing because he is targeting a children audience, as a matter of fact, Dahl has created more than 500 new words and characters names.
- His books are full of life lessons – in addition to creating wonderful characters and entertaining readers, the novel itself would always end with a good moral and life lesson.
Thank you, Roald Dahl for your writing, and gracing us with amazing stories and characters.
What is your favourite work from Roald Dahl? Or adaptation?