Beloved author Roald Dahl would have turned 100 years old today. His stories have enchanted generations of children across the world and are enjoyed in schools, on the big screen and at bedtime, inspiring creative thought and fun. He has sold over 250 million copies of his 19 children’s books.
His magical stories were inspired by his childhood experiences. His Norwegian heritage is seen in The Witches and his opportunity to be a taste tester for Cadbury’s and life long love of chocolate in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Dahl’s sister and father died when he was young leaving his mother to care for 5 children and leading to the adventure of attending boarding school which influenced Matilda.
Like his stories, Dahl sought out adventure. Instead of accepting tuition to Cambridge University from his mother he chose to work for a company that would help him travel the world. He sailed to Newfoundland, took a job for Shell that brought him to Africa and enlisted in the Royal Airforce becoming a fighter pilot until he crashed and sustained serious injuries in Egypt.
Dahl married and had 5 children. His bedtime stories inspired him to write his children’s books. There is a great article featuring his grand-daughter, Sophie‘s remembrances of “Mold” or “Moldy”, (it was hard for her to say Roald with the Norwegian pronounciation), in the Guardian today that provides insight into his close relationships with his family.
Recently my son and I have read The BFG and The Witches is in the works. We enjoyed George’s Marvellous Medicine last year and I have just read his childhood memoir Boy this week. He has invented his own vocabulary of words and uses provocative terms and words that might be considered inappropriate today (i.e. the twits) which is part of his appeal to children.
Roald Dahl died of an unspecified infection in November of 1990 at the age of 74 but has left a legacy of characters, frivolity and beloved stories for generations to come! He has also left 10% of his royalties to the Roald Dahl Marvellous Children’s Charities which helps to make life better for seriously ill children in the UK. The charity includes Roald Dahl Nurses to provide medical and emotional support to children with serious and rare conditions and believes that every child has the right to a more marvellous life, no matter how ill they are, or how short their life may be.
“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” (Roald Dahl in The Twits)