Hey all! First off, I just want to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there! I hope you enjoy a wonderful day surrounded by family and good food! I wrote this post before I realized the date was our Thanksgiving day, so I decided just to schedule it ahead of time so I could enjoy the day with my family. Feel free to comment, but don’t be discouraged if I don’t comment back immediately. By the time this is published, I’ll probably be baking TWO apple pies for my TWO separate Thanksgiving feasts! I’ll probably post the recipe at some point because it’s absolutely delicious and everyone loves it!
Roald Dahl is a name that EVERYONE knows. He’s almost as well known as the famous Dr. Seuss. So for this installment of On This Day in History, I chose to discuss Roald Dahl on the day he died in 1990. Some of his stories are extremely popular. He’s mostly known for his children’s stories, but he was also an author of adult novels, short stories, and poetry.
Road Dahl was born in Llandaff, Wales on September 13, 1916. His parents were Harald Dahl and Sofie Magdalene Hesselberg, originally of Norwegian descent. His early life was stained mostly by tragedy. Both his older sister, Astri, and father died tragically during his formative years. He spent his school days at two boarding schools, where he recounts most of his unusual memories there in Boy. It was here, as well, that he and his fellow pupils were offered to test chocolate bars, which eventually inspired Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
After school, Dahl eventually started traveling the world, and then enlisted in the Royal Air Force when he was 23 years old. He eventually sustained severe head injuries when his plane crash-landed, and returned to action after six months of recovery. He even went on to provide intelligence to MI6.
In 1953 he married Patricia Neal, an American actress, and went on to have five children with her. Eventually they divorced after 30 years and he married Felicity Crosland. It was only around 1961 that he started writing. Aside from writing novels, short stories and poetry, he also wrote screenplays for television, and many of his stories were written for TV in Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
He died today in 1990 at the age of 74. He is buried in Great Missenden, where there is a museum and story center dedicated to him.
The Best of Roald Dahl: Stories I’ve Read and Loved
Ever seen the movie, Gremlins? Well, it’s loosely based on the novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. This was his first children’s book, written for Walt Disney Productions as promotion for an animated movie that was eventually abandoned.
Just like the movie, the story centers around small, mythical creatures who sabotage British airplanes in revenge for man destroying their forest home on which an aircraft factory now stands. The main character, Gus, manages to convince the Gremlins to fight with the British Air Force against the Nazis, and are trained alongside men
Boy: Tales of Childhood
I had this book as a child, and the only story I remember with great detail from this book is Goat’s Tobacco. This tells the story of how Roald’s older sister gets engaged to a man who always smokes a pipe. This starts to bother everyone, so, while on a family trip to Norway, Roald replaces the tobacco in his pipe with goat droppings.
All of these stories are autobiographical, focusing on Roald’s childhood. They explore the world through a child’s eyes in England during the early 20th century. They’re all fairly humorous, since children are well known for being curious and mischievous.
James and the Giant Peach
I’m sure as kids we’ve all watched the movie James and the Giant Peach. It was originally a children’s story by Dahl. It centers around an English orphan named James who enters a giant, magical peach to escape from his two cruel aunts. He meets seven magical bugs and they go on numerous adventures within the peach.
What’s interesting is that Dahl originally wrote the story about a giant cherry, but changed it because peaches are prettier and squishier than cherries.
I LOVED this movie as a girl, and the idea that a little girl can get back at all the people that make her life miserable is wonderful. Matilda is five and a half years old, but she reads like I do. She’s very smart and responsible and has a form of telekinesis, but is surrounded by the imbeciles that make up her family. She eventually goes to school where she meets Ms. Honey, who is kind and accepting of Matilda.
But then there’s Ms. Trunchbull. She takes pride in terrorizing the children in the school and using and abusing Ms. Honey. This story gives children a chance to fight back against those who would do them harm. It’s a great children’s book and has been adapted into movies, miniseries and even a musical.
My Uncle Oswald
The main character of the novel, Uncle Oswald, originally made appearances in several of Dahl’s short stories that became so popular that Dahl wrote an adult novel about him. The narrator of the story is nameless, but he describes Uncle Oswald’s crazy and humorous life. He is wealthy and attractive and a great fornicator.
This book is definitely not for children, but is raunchy and satirical and perfect for adults.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Lastly is the obvious favorite of Roald Dahl’s children’s stories, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Willy Wonka runs a chocolate factory, and releases five golden tickets in his chocolate bars for children around the world. If you possess a golden ticket, you gain a tour of the Wonka Chocolate Factory.
The rest, I’m sure, you’re all familiar with. This story was originally inspired by Dahl’s childhood at Repton, a British private school, where the students were given chocolate bars to test out.
Roald Dahl has become a household name through his children’s stories. But he wrote more than just books for kids. What I love most about Dahl’s stories are that many of them were clearly inspired by his own life both in childhood and adulthood. He’s even getting his own biopic, with Hugh Bonneville of Downton Abbey fame slated to play Dahl. The film will focus more on Dahl’s marriage to Hollywood actress Patricia Neal, but a lot of his best work was produced during his time married to her. Check out an article here for more details.
Have you ever read anything by Roald Dahl? What were your favorite books? Let me know below!