ROALD DAHL (1916 – 1990)
When born: 13th September 1916 – this was in the middle of the First World War!
Where born: In South Wales in the United Kingdom, but both his parents were Norwegian and he used to spend his holidays as a kid in Norway with his grandparents. Sadly, his dad died when he was just four years old.
School days: Roald Dahl HATED school! He went to a number of private boarding schools in England, including Repton which is really famous. But he said that school was just “Days of horror filled with rules, rules, and still more rules”.
Why and when he began writing: When he left school, Roald Dahl refused to go to university because he wanted adventure in ”wonderful faraway places like Africa or China.” So he went to Africa with Shell Oil Company, then in 1939 when World War Two broke out he joined the RAF as a fighter pilot in the Mediterranean.
When his plane was shot down over Egypt he suffered severe head injuries, so he left the airforce and became an adviser to the government in Washington DC in the US. It was then that he was asked to write short stories for grown-ups in magazines – he said it was just a fluke that he started writing and he wouldn’t have ever done it if someone hadn’t asked him to!
Roald Dahl wrote his first children’s story, The Gremlins, in 1943, but it wasn’t until he had his own children (five of them!) and started making up bedtime stories that his career as a children’s writer really began. His first ever full length kids’ book was James and the Giant Peach, published in 1961!
Why I love Roald Dahl’s books: I love Roald Dahl’s writing for adults as well as kids, but the reason he’s my favourite kids’ writer is because he’s very funny, he never “dumbs down” his books but uses wonderful language, his plots have lots of twists and turns and always keep you on your toes, and the characters are just fantastic – disgustingly bad or extremely good, or very clever, or amazingly talented or just plain bizarre! It would be impossible to become bored reading one of Roald Dahl’s books!
When Roald Dahl was at school, he and some other boys got into terrible trouble for putting a dead mouse into a store-keeper’s candy jar! No wonder he wrote such amazing books as Matilda when he later became a writer!
Today we know that during the time that Roald Dahl was in Washington DC he was actually working as a spy for the British Government!
Even when he became really famous, Roald Dahl always wrote in a shed at the bottom of his garden, surrounded by greenery, sun and breezes, birds singing and of course his dogs! Now THAT’s the life for me!
“Beastly people must be punished.”
Useful website: There are dozens of websites about Roald Dahl, but in my opinion the best is his official website where you can read all about his life and his books, there is really funny animation and music, and even better, you can actually hear Roald Dahl talking about his writing! It’s one of my favourite author websites!