The memorable life of Roald Dahl

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Today Roald Dahl would have turned 95. His legacy includes, of course, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and James and the Giant Peach. Dahl served as a pilot with the Royal Air Force in WWII, and got his start as a writer by publishing “Shot Down Over Libya” in the Saturday Evening Post in 1942. He wrote numerous short stories with dark plot twists for an adult audience, before delving into his much-loved children’s books.

For thirty years, Dahl did his writing every morning in solitude, in a hut on the property of his home in Buckinghamshire. He surrounded his deep wing chair and hand-rigged lap bench with familiar items—an ever-expanding ball of aluminum foil from candy wrappers, a piece of his own hip bone, bookmarks and pictures. He kept a stack of yellow pads and sharpened a handful of pencils every morning. Only an intimate few friends and family were allowed to visit the hut, but it remains as he left it today. His granddaughter has launched a fundraising campaign to move the hut entirely to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre. Illustrator Quentin Blake describes the room more here.

Last year The Telegraph ran this extract from Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl, by Donald Sturrock (HarperCollins), which gives a more detailed view into the author's family life and his fortitude.