Welcome to the world of Roald Dahl.
Roald Dahl was born in 1916, Cardiff to Norwegian parents. At a young age his father passed away and Roald was sent to boarding schools in England. His childhood years left a lasting impression on Roald and he later serialised these in his autobiography – Boy.
These times were generally unhappy for Roald, he recounts the excessive strictness, corporal punishment and fear amongst the boys. The brutal canning meted out to boys by both staff and ‘prefects’ particularly stuck in the mind of the young Dahl.
He recounted the fear and pain in great detail. He also mentioned a friend who was flogged – by the then headmaster of Repton, leaving a trail of blood. Roald wrote this headmaster went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury and this is one incident that turned him away from religion and God.
The only glimpses of happiness were in the school holidays when he visited the beautiful Norwegian Fjords of his parents homeland and also towards the end of his school career when he got his first motorbike.
On leaving school, Roald got a job with Shell Petroleum company and in 1934 he was transferred to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. He enjoyed his job and made good progress. However, on the outbreak of war in August 1939, he soon joined the Royal Air Force and became a fighter ace. He gained little training in an old Tiger Moth before being flung into brutal dogfights.
After a medical condition, Dahl was invalided back to Britain. For the remainder of the war he was given a job writing propaganda for the allies. He also supplied intelligence to the British Security Co ordination which was part of MI6.
After the war, Dahl began to concentrate more on writing as a career. His first successful story was an account of his crash in Egypt – “A Piece of Cake” – initially published as “Shot down over Libya”. This led to his first children’s book – Gremlins, commissioned by Walt Disney.
He went on to create some of the most memorable children’s books. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda. They set a new tone for children’s books. They often featured a dark sense of humour, grave injustice and grotesque figures (often fat e.g. Augustus Gloop, Bruce Bogtrotter).
He also wrote short adult short stories, and in the 1960s he also wrote two successful screenplays – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the James Bond film – You Only Live Twice. But, it is primarily for his best selling children’s books that he is remembered.
He married Patricia Neal on 2 July 1953 in New York. They had five children during their 30 year marriage.
Clancy's comment: An amazing character, eh? Wow, I never knew that he wrote two famous screenplays.
Think about this!