Wednesday, March 4, 1970

Author - Dahl, Roald

Birth: September 13, 1916.

Death: November 23, 1990.

Comments: Roald Dahl is one of the twentieth century's most popular authors of children's books, responsible for classics such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and James and the Giant Peach. While he is best known for his children's fiction, Dahl was also an accomplished adult mystery writer, garnering three Edgar Awards in his career, and a reasonably prolific movie and television screenwriter, with screenplay credits on You Only Live Twice, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Several of his books have been adapted for the screen - Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and Fantastic Mr. Fox to name a few.

If all Roald Dahl had done was write books he would have been an interesting fellow. But his personal life story would make him somewhat noteworthy on its own (in fact, some of his actions during World War II were used by the British government as propaganda to try to persuade the United States to enter the war on Britain's side). His parents were Norwegian, but had moved to Cardiff before he was born. One of Dahl's older sisters and his father died when Dahl was three, leaving a gap in the young boy's life that clearly affected much of his later writing. Acceding to his late father's wishes, Dahl's mother sent him to boarding school in the United Kingdom (Dahl's father was of the opinion that the British school system was the best in the world), an experience that Dahl found extremely unpleasant, and which also clearly influenced much of his later writing. Dahl related much of the details concerning his school experiences and other events from his youth in his autobiographical book Boy: Tales of Childhood. After he finished school, Dahl obtained a job with Shell and moved to East Africa where he lived until World War II broke out. After mucking about in Kenya and Tangyaninka rounding up Germans, Dahl joined the R.A.F. and saw action in the Mediterranean and North Africa as a fighter pilot. A forced nighttime landing in the desert gone bad resulted in a fractured skull, and although he continued flying for a while, increasingly debilitating headaches that resulted from this injury forced him to be removed from flight duty. He was transferred to the United States where he worked to try to persuade the United States to view Britain favorably with an eye towards convincing the U.S. to join the war on the Allied side.

During this time, Dahl was asked to write a piece about his crash in the North African desert for release in the United States. he met with a writer who was supposed to put the story into publishable form, who turned out to be C.S. Forester. Once Forester saw the draft Dahl produced, he decided it did not need to be rewritten and arranged to have it published verbatim as Dahl had written it and encouraged Dahl to continue writing. This encounter is significant because prior to this there was no reason for Dahl to believe he had any substantial writing talent at all. In fact, while he was at school, his teachers regarded him as a poor writer, which seems to me to indicate that the British school system wasn't nearly as good as Dahl's father assumed it to be. Following the war, Dahl married actress Patricia Neal, had several children, lost his daughter Olivia to measles (resulting in Dahl becoming a pro-vaccination activist), and wrote the books that he is now remembered for. His wife suffered a series of cerebral aneurysms in 1965, which he helped her recover from. They divorced and he married Felicity Crosland in 1983. Felicity has maintained his estate since his death in 1990 which has an official website in his name called Roald Dahl.

My reviews of Roald Dahl's books:
Boy: Tales of Childhood
Danny the Champion of the World
George's Marvelous Medicine
The Witches

Other books by Roald Dahl that I have read but not reviewed:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
James and the Giant Peach
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More

Authors - D     Authors A-Z     Home

No comments:

Post a Comment