Every now and again, we like to look back and remember a great storyteller from the past. When we look back and consider who in the world of juvenile literature was innovative in his or her time and who wrote books that have stood the test of time. With those criteria in mind, Roald Dahl stands very tall.
Mr. Dahl is best known for his landmark book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The book has been the subject of two major motion pictures and its story lives in our collective cultural mind. The book was released in 1964. However, like many authors, the literary works he produced are but a portion of his life experience.
Dahl was born in Wales, in 1916. Both his parents were Norwegian immigrants. Dahl’s early life was marked with tragedy. When he was three years-old, he lost a sister, Astri, in 1920 from appendicitis. Just a few weeks after his sister died, he lost his father to pneumonia, who was 57. Faced with the option to return to Norway to live with relatives, Dahl’s mother decided to remain in Wales because her late husband had insisted to have their children educated in British schools.
Dahl was an average student in the classroom. He received some of his lowest marks in writing. Although he did not excel in the classroom, he did excel in sports. He was exceptionally tall, 6 ft 6 in as an adult. This height helped him become captain of the school fives and squash teams, and also playing for the football team.
Although, writing well alluded him as a student, he loved reading and literature. He developed an interest in photography, often carrying a camera with him and he stayed plenty busy with sports. During his later school years at Repton, the school was near the Cadbury chocolate Company. The company would occasionally send boxes of new chocolates to the school to be tested by the students. Dahl wondered what it would be like to invent a new chocolate bar that Mr. Cadbury himself would be impressed with. This experience is the obvious kernel for his most popular book,Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Dahl, finished up his schooling in 1934, then went adventuring. He traveled through Nova Scotia and later worked for the Shell Oil Company in Tanzania. This was excellent duty as he lived in the Shell mansion in Mombasa while serving customers in the region.
At the outset of World War II in 1939, Dahl was recruited to be an airman for the Royal Air Force. He had a varied and excellent service record in the force and was discharged with the high rank of Squadan Leader. He was a bona-fide Flying Ace with more than 5 verified ariel victories. Although he likely had more than 20 victories. This would make him among the very best combat pilots of the RAF for World War II.
After the war, he met an married American actress Patricia Neal in 1953 at Trinity Church in New York City. Their marriage lasted for 30 years and they had five children: Olivia, Tessa, Theo, Ophelia and Lucy.
Dahl’s life was marked again by tragedy with two of his children, Theo and Olivia, suffering from injury and illness. Olivia died from hydrocephalus. These experiences turned Dahl to become a champion for childhood immunizations. His son, Theo suffered a brain injury while an infant. Dahl worked the remainder of his life advocating for better treatment for brain injuries as a result. His efforts lead to many new developments in the field of neurology that are used to this day.
Dahl’s writing life began in earnest in 1942 when he sold a story to the Saturday Evening Post. Seeing that writing could be a way to tell his own incredible life stories and stories he invented, be began a long and distinguished career in writing. His works for adults and children are extensive.
The part of his juvenile works that is most distinctive, especially in the era in which they were published, is that the stories are written from the point of view of the child in story and the villains in the stories are adults. Most of which are based on adults he knew in his own life.
Dahl had wonderful success as an author and moderate success as a screen play writer. He also hosted a television shows in both the Untied States and the United Kingdom.
The lasting testament of Dahl’s books are the universal themes that he explores in his writing. Roald Dahl books are timeless pieces that will be enjoyed by generations yet unborn.
Aside from his literary accomplishments, Dahl’s work with charitable causes were and continues to be significant. He worked with causes that benefit neurology, hematology and literacy. These causes have continued to benefit through his widow since his death. The charitable organization that continues is Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity.
Dahl has received numerous high awards for his books and other literary works. However, what’s the point of receiving these awards if Roald Dahl’s are not read and enjoyed by today’s children?
We invite to to explore Dahl’s works on this site and come to know these excellent works for yourself.