Roald Dahl 1916 – 1990

26 Feb

roald dahl

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was a British novelist and wrote a great many popular stories in his lifetime. In my previous post I said we were going to find out if Roald Dahl preferred acid to magic mushrooms, and whether he though Willy Wonka was a danger to society or a misunderstood confectioner with a personality disorder and a velvet fetish. I now feel bad. I hadn’t known at this time that he had a bit of a sad life. I mean, not SAD sad like you want to cry until your face starts to resemble Micky Rourke’s, but sad like when you hear someone died who you already thought was dead. Like Tony Curtis.

He was born in Cardiff to Norwegian parents, so I guess that made him Welwegian or Norsh. He had three sisters, one of which died of appendicitis when he was three, and then a few weeks later his father died of pneumonia while fishing in the Antarctic. Brrr! Dahl then went onto have five children, one of which (Theo) suffered with brain damage when his baby buggy was hit by a car, and another (Olivia) died of measles when she was seven. His first wife Pat also had three strokes in a row at the age of just 39. Then a few months before Dahl died his step daughter Lorina died of a brain tumour. See, I told you it was sad, and also extremely unlucky. I’m glad we got that bit out of the way with minimal fuss and very few tears. Sniff.

Here’s the timeline fact stuff for smug gits who know everything about everything:

  • Born on 13th September 1916 in Wales
  • Welsh (ish)
  • Writer and wing commander (I wish he was my Grandpa)
  • Married twice; his first wife was actress Patricia Neal and the second was Felicity Crosland (there may have been a slight crossover i.e an affair (dirty dog)
  • He had five offspring
  • He died on the 23rd November 1990
  • He has an uber cool website which I recommend you visit at your convenience or now

On a happier note, Dahl was a flying ace. Yes, ACE. I thought that was just an endearing term for someone who’s pretty damn good, but apparently it’s a real thing. Who Knew? He did lots of flying and fighting stuff and also managed to crash a plane in the desert and hurt himself quite a bit. During the war he worked in intelligence for an organisation that was part of MI6, and also got to hang out with Ian Flemming. Some say he based the character of James Bond on Roald Dahl himself. That would be brilliant, but sadly a lie. Feel free to start a rumour though.

It has been said that Dahl was, and still is, the world favourite children’s author. I’m not going to disagree, even though I have a replica of a Golden Snitch (bought from Harry Potter World) and a half calf leather bound limited edition collector’s original of the complete Famous Five stores in their original packaging. I have also tried Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, and I have to say that earthworms taste better than soap when followed by black pepper and sausage.  Earwax, not so much.

Anyway, Dahl wrote some amazing, and bonkersly funny books, both for children and adults. I remember reading one of his short stories about a boy who thinks his mother’s going to eat him because she had a big mouth. It was a long time ago, but the Rolling Stones’ logo still gives me the shivers. Probably his most famous works are those meant for children, but also give a lot of pleasure to adults. Here are the most popular (decided by me):

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
Fantastic Mr Fox
Boy: Tales of Childhood
The Twits
James and the Giant Peach
Danny, the Champion of the World
George’s Marvellous Medicine
The Witches
Matilda
The BFG

To name but a few. If there’s anyone out there who thinks I’ve missed one of his greatest works then do tell. I promise not to chastise you by calling you a deluded fake bibliophile with no sense of personal space and no manners to speak of. I promise.

I regret to inform you that there is no Roald Dahl Appreciation Society for you to spend your cold, hard cash buying membership for. There is however a club, but I’m afraid you have to be under the age of 13 to join. I am going to send a stern email, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

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7 Responses to “Roald Dahl 1916 – 1990”

  1. thebestofdreams February 27, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    Thanks for this post. Interesting, entertainingly written and duly reverent to (in my humble opinion, and no disrespect to JK Rowling etc.) the greatest children’s writer of the 20th century.

  2. amb March 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    “I mean, not SAD sad like you want to cry until your face starts to resemble Micky Rourke’s, but sad like when you hear someone died who you already thought was dead. Like Tony Curtis.” Oh my goodness – this made me laugh. So. Much.

  3. laurnicolehunt March 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm #

    In the 24 hours since I discovered your blog it has become one of my favorites. All the things I ever wanted to know about some classic and some obscure authors, in a way that entices me to actually read it. Great stuff!

  4. workingmom2012 March 14, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    Thanks for following my blog! I am so excited to link back to your blog and especially loved this latest post on Dahl. I recently just finished reading “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to my 7 year old and I enjoyed it as much as him. Perhaps a little more than I thought as I kept extending bedtime just to finish the chapter. While the movie is a classic, I am so glad we read the book together before he watched it. It gave him so much greater of an appreciation of the story.

  5. postmoderndonkey April 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    I am fascinated by your interests. I find it necessary to share with you another blog you may find equally fascinating. It is a blog of author interviews by a retired publisher who remains anonymous and apparently retired ( and has not posted since Feb). The Dahl interview stayed in my head and your bio made the connection to:

    http://shortattentionspanpress.wordpress.com/

    • ahundredauthors April 8, 2013 at 9:14 am #

      Thank you very much, I will definitely have a good read. He may be able to help me with my future bios too 🙂

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