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Roald Dahl Author Study

A man and writer of tragedy and inspiration

Richard Schmit

on 26 May 2012

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Transcript of Roald Dahl Author Study

Roald Dahl was born September 13 in Llandaff, Wales.
Sofie and Harald were Norwegian. Roald was the only son of this second marriage.
Harald and Astri died when Roald was three.
From then on, Sofie raised her five children on her own.
Sofie told her children Norwegian tales about trolls and other creatures.
High in a tree, Roald wrote in a diary. He stored the diary there so that his five sisters couldn't read it.
He enjoyed adventure stories like "Captain Marryat" and read authors like
Charles Dickens,
William Thackeray, and Ambrose Pierce.
Roald Dahl
The Norwegian pronunciation
of Roald is "Roo-all."
You do not pronounce the "d."
So when you say Roald Dahl,
it should rhyme.
Adult Literature
Children's Literature
Importance of Reading
Boarding school
This was an unhappy time in Roald's childhood and it influenced his writing later in life.
He created "Matilda's" Miss Trunchball from his own headmaster who "disliked small boys very much indeed."
Roald's favorite times during school were spent at a candy store.
He pulled ideas for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" from this experience.
He wrote his mom once a week to cope with his homesickness. He continued this for another 32 years until Sofie died.
While his children attended school, he wrote to them twice a week.
Roald didn't attend university. Instead, he joined the Public Schools Exploring Society Expedition in Newfoundland, Canada.
Then he worked as a salesman for Shell in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Africa.
World War II broke out when he was 23-years-old. He eagerly joined the Royal Air Force.
English novelist C.S. Forester asked Roald to describe his version of war in America's Saturday Evening Post to publicize the British war effort. It was entitled
"Shot Down Over Libya."
Roald spent the first 15 years of his career writing for adults.
He continued writing articles for the Saturday Evening Post. He also wrote for the New Yorker, Harper's, and Atlantic Monthly.
The 17 articles were later published as a collection entitled "Over to You."
Roald: "They became less and less realistic and more fictional.
I began to see that I could handle fiction."
Roald: "Since I could write, that's what
I'd do."
The Sunday Tribune: "bizarre, inventive, clever, imaginative, spinechilling -- for kindness and pleasantries, I suggest you look elsewhere. If, on the other hand, it is dark ingenuity you're after, with lashings of malice and a slice of humor, then Roald Dahl is the man."
His most-read story at that time was "Lamb to the Slaughter." It's about a wife who uses an unusual weapon to beat her husband to death. Later, she cleverly destroys the evidence.
Roald: "What's horrible is basically funny. In fiction."
Roald's short stories were televised in Britain on "Tales of the Unexpected." There were 112 episodes over 9 seasons.
He also wrote novels "Sometime Never" and "My Uncle Oswald."
Roald's first book was a picture book called "The Gremlins."
It was about mischevious spirits that cause aircraft engine failures.
A movie version was abandoned by Walt Disney.
Roald: "Had I not had children,
I would not have written books for children nor would I have been capable of doing so."
Roald had five children: Olivia, Tessa, Ophelia, Lucy, and Theo.
At 4-months-old, Theo became brain damaged after a road accident.
Olivia died from measles at age 7.
Much later in life, Roald's stepdaughter Lorina died from a brain tumor.
"James and the Giant Peach" is recognized as his first children's book. It was printed in 1961 in the U.S.
His second book was "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," which was printed in 1964 in the U.S.
"Charlie" had world-wide success. The Chinese edition sold 2 million copies, which was the biggest printing of any book at the time.
It was made into two movies in 1971 and 2005.
Roald's popularity led to a string of bestsellers:
"The BFG"
"Danny the Champion of the World"
"The Twits"
"The Witches"
"Going Solo"
Robin Suicord, who co-wrote the "Matilda" movie script said, "(Roald) is keyed into the psychological life of a child better than any other writer. He brings their fears right to the surface, whether it's about the first day of school or saving your grandparents from death."
Roald: "If you want to remember what it's like to live in a child's world, you've got to get down on your hands and knees and live like that for a week. You'll find you have to look up at all these -- giants around you who are always telling you what to do and what not to do."
Dahl books have been translated into 34 languages.
He received a handful of awards, which Tony Bradman of The Telegraph said, "such awards came late in a career characterised by a general snootiness in critical quarters, and a growing tide of popularity with the punters which eventually became a deluge of Noah-style proportions."
Roald: "I'm probably more pleased with my children's books than with my adult short stories. Children's books are harder to write. It's tougher to keep a child interested because a child doesn't have the concentration of an adult. The child knows the television is in the next room. It's tough to hold a child, but it's a lovely thing to try to do."
Roald: "I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn't be daunting, they should be funny, exciting, wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage."
Roald was considered a slow writer. He refused to write unless he had a good plot. He would spend a month sometimes on the first page of a story.
He chose not to type. Instead he used a Ticonderoga pencil.
He and his family lived in Buckinghamshire, England.
He wrote several drafts because
"I never get anything right the first time."
Can you imagine rewriting several hundred-page drafts by hand?
9:30 a.m.: read fanmail
10:30 - midday: write
Afternoon: read
4 p.m.: write
Roald: "I am a disciplined writer.
I don't think any writer works particularly long hours because he becomes inefficient."
Roald died November 23 at age 74.
He was working on "The Vicar of Nibbleswicke,"
"My Year," and
"The Roald Dahl Cookbook," which were published years later.
Book sales continue to grow throughout the world.
The Roald Dahl Foundation was established by his second wife after his death. The foundation offers grants in:
1. Literacy - his passion
2. Neurology - Affected his family
3. Haematology - A blood disorder he had.
"The Mildenhall Treasure" (1946, 1977, 1999)
"Boy" (1984)
"Going Solo" (1986)
"Memories with Food at the Gipsy House" (1991)
"My Year" (1993)
"The Gremlins" (1943)
"James and the Giant Peach" (1961)
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (1964)
"The Magic Finger" (1966)
"Fantastic Mr. Fox" (1970)
"Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator" (1972)
"Danny, the Champion of the World" (1975)
"The Enormous Crocodile" (1978)
"The Twits" (1980)
"George's Marvelous Medicine" (1981)
"Revolting Rhymes" (1982)
"The BFG" (1982)
"The Witches" (1983)
"Dirty Beasts" (1984)
"The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me" (1985)
"Matilda" (1988)
"Esio Trot" (1987)
"Rhyme Stew" (1989)
"The Vicar of Nibbleswicke" (1990)
"The Minpins" (1991)
"D is for Dahl" (2007)
Adult Fiction
"Sometime Never" (1948)
"My Uncle Oswald" (1979)
"Over to You" (1946)
"Someone Like You" (1953)
"Lamb to Slaughter" (1953)
"Kiss Kiss" (1960)
"Twenty-Nine Kisses from Roald Dahl" (1969)
"Switch Bitch" (1974)
"The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar" (1977)
"The Best of Roald Dahl" (1978)
"Tales of the Unexpected" (1979)
"More Tales of the Unexpected" (1980)
"Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories" (1983)
"The Roald Dahl Omnibus" (1986)
"Two Fables" (1986)
"Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life" (1989)
"The Collected Short Stories of Roald Dahl" (1991)
"The Roald Dahl Treasury" (1997)
"Umbrella Man" (1997)
"Skin and Other Stories" (2000)
"Roald Dahl Collected Stories" (2006)
Children's Fiction
Roald had four sisters: Alfhild, Asta, Astri, Else, and Ellen.
The grandmother in "The Witches" was based on Roald's mother and was his tribute to her.
Related Websites
The Official Roald Dahl Site: www.roalddahl.com

Roald Dahl Fan Site:


Illustrator Quentin Blake
Family Tragedy
The Process
Quentin Blake
Quentin has worked with several authors and published a few of his own children's literature. But his most famous work was with Roald Dahl.
Daily Telegraph: "Blake is beyond brilliant. He's anarchic, moral, infinitely subversive, sometimes vicious, socially acute, sparse when he has to be, exuberantly lavish in the detail when he feels like it. He can tell wonderful stories without a single word, but his partnership with Roald Dahl was made in heaven. Or somewhere. The diabolic ingenuity of Dahl came into its own only when he wrote for children. In conjunction with Blake, there was a kind of alchemy. I've never met a child who didn't love Quentin Blake."
Roald was born in Llandaff, which is part of Cardiff. This area is located in southern Wales.
Wales is located in Europe.
In Europe, the country is part of the United Kingdom.
Frobscottle was the BFG's drink of choice.
The Dahl's called their home the Gipsy House.
Roald wrote in a small hut near the garden.
Full transcript