10 Interesting Facts About Roald Dahl

Bestselling author, fighter pilot, inventor, chocolate expert... was there anything Roald Dahl couldn't do?! This much-loved writer wrote many unforgettable classics, including Matilda, The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Discover more about him below.

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1. He was born in September 1916 to Norwegian parents, Harald and Sofie Magdalene Dahl.

Roald's first language was Norwegian, and he would speak this at home with his sisters - Astri, Alfhild and Else - and parents.

2. When he was just 3 years old, his 7-year-old sister Astri passed away, and his father died just weeks later from pneumonia.

He would share a close bond with his mother throughout his childhood.

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3. From 1929, he attended a boarding school at which he had to endure routine cruelty, including beatings and violence.

Older boys would make younger boys at the school their servants, and Roald became very homesick, writing a letter to his mother every week. She kept all of his letters, wrapped up with green tape, and they would be given back to Roald Dahl when she died in 1967.

4. He was never seen as a particularly good writer as a child. One English teacher wrote in his school report: 'I have never met anybody who so persistently writes words meaning the exact opposite of what is intended.'

Little did that teacher know...!

5. However, he had a passion for literature, and also enjoyed sports, photography... and chocolate.

Occasionally, the chocolate company Cadbury would send boxes of new chocolates for pupils to test. Roald's interest in chocolate would lead to the creation of his much-loved book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

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6. In 1939, as World War II loomed, Roald joined the RAF as a fighter pilot.

In one terrifying incident, he crash-landed in the African desert, fracturing several bones and temporarily going blind.

7. Roald married the American actress Patricia Neal in July 1953. The marriage lasted 30 years and they had five children together.

In December 1960, their 4-month-old son Theo suffered severe head injuries when he was hit by a cab in New York. This led to Roald's involvement in the development of a medical device, the 'Wade-Dahl-Till' valve, which would be used to successfully treat almost 3,000 children around the world.

8. Tragedy would strike again when, in November 1962, Roald Dahl's eldest daughter Olivia died of measles. Like Roald's sister, she was just 7 years old when she died.

Roald would go on to dedicate The BFG to Olivia.

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9. In 1965, whilst pregnant with their fifth child, Patricia Neal suffered 3 burst aneurysms. Roald helped her re-learn to walk and talk and she even managed to go back to acting.

However, the couple divorced in 1983, and Roald married Felicity 'Liccy' Crosland.

10. Roald Dahl died of a blood disease on 23 November 1990, aged 74.

Children continue to put flowers and toys by his grave to this day, and he has left an incredible legacy, having inspired millions of children to love reading with his sensational stories.

  • Roald Dahl Collection - 15 Books - Collection - 9780141371337 - Roald Dahl
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    There are no other authors quite like Roald Dahl. A supreme storyteller with a wicked sense of humour, his characters and stories are timeless and unforgettable.

    With striking new artwork to celebrate the Roald Dahl 100 celebrations and a keepsake slipcase featuring Quentin Blake's iconic illustrations, this 15-book collection brings together all Dahl's classic children's novels.

    From Mr. Hoppy and Mrs Silver to Mr & Mrs Twit; and from giant peaches to magic medicines; this is a collection bursting with unique characters, hilarious situations and unforgettable storylines - as well as Dahl's wicked sense of humour.

    An essential addition to any bookshelf, the likes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches and Fantastic Mr Fox have shocked, excited and entertained generations of children and now's your chance to own them all - whatever your age!

    Format: paperback
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    Fizzwinkle - an exotic sweet from China that is sold in the Grubber.
    Rumpledumpus - a very noisy fuss or protest.
    Catasterous - a very bad situation indeed.
    Combining commonly used words and those that the author invented to use in his phizz-whizzing stories, the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary is ideal for any human beans. Complemented by Quentin Blake's illustrations, the book has descriptions for what each word means and explains where they came from and how Dahl used them.

    Designed to encourage and inspire young readers and writers, the book also covers rhyming words, synonyms and provides alternatives for overused words.
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    With a phizz-whizzing new cover to mark 100 years of Roald Dahl, this is the story of a foul and smelly couple known as The Twits.

    Mr Twit has bits of cornflake and sardine in his beard, while his wife Mrs Twit is a horrible old hag with a glass eye. When they're together, they are probably one of the nastiest couples you're likely to meet. They love to play awful pranks on each other, too.

    The Twits are such a nasty couple that they keep Muggle-Wump the monkey and his family locked in a cage on their garden. But they haven't bet on the monkeys making a plan to trick them...

    One of Dahl's funniest stories, the story is accompanied by Quentin Blake's iconic illustrations.
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    From the genius mind of Roald Dahl, Matilda Wormwood is a heroine with a love of books and some truly magical powers. Her parents may call her terrible things all the time, but the truth is she's a very special little girl.

    Forming a special bond with her caring teacher Miss Honey, both her parents and the angry, spiteful headmistress Miss Trunchbull soon find out they were wrong to underestimate Matilda so much...

    In 1996, this magical book was adapted into a popular film directed by and starring Danny DeVito and it's also now an award-winning musical across the world. Complete with Quentin Blake's illustrations, Matilda is a timeless classic that will be returned to again and again.
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    With its refreshed look to celebrate the Roald Dahl 100 celebrations, this special edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is perfect for introducing children to the wonderful and weird world of Roald Dahl.

    With Quentin Blake's illustrations, this is the story of a boy from a poor family who wins a golden ticket to visit the elusive Willy Wonka's secretive chocolate factory.

    When Charlie Bucket arrives at the tour - hosted by none other than Willy Wonka, the owner of the factory - he finds himself surrounded by nasty, spoilt brats. There's the greedy Augustus Gloop; arrogant Veruca Salt; repulsive Violet Beaurgarde; and TV-obsessed Mike Teavee.

    But when the tour starts, what mysterious secrets will the group discover? Everything from oompa-loompas to a glass elevator await... this is a classic children's story from the world's No. 1 storyteller.
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    With refreshed artwork to celebrate the Roald Dahl 100 anniversary celebrations, this is a special edition of the magical tale, George's Marvellous Medicine.

    George's Marvellous Medicine is one of his most popular tales, in which young boy George creates a very special medicine to cure his grandma of her nasty habits. Complete with Quentin Blake's iconic illustrations, this is a must-read for any youngster in the midst of their reading journey!
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    Why do witches fly around on broomsticks? Because vacuum cleaners are too heavy, of course!

    And what do you call a fairy who hasn't taken a bath? That would be 'Stinkerbell'!

    Roald Dahl was always full of fun and mischief and loved all kinds of jokes, the sillier the better, so this hilarious book is sure to appeal to all his fans. The book also features Quentin Blake's iconic illustrations.
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    With its refreshed look to join in the Roald Dahl 100 Celebrations, this edition of The BFG is splendiferous. Telling the story of a young girl called Sophie who stays up way past the witching hour and meets a giant who is far friendlier than the others - who like to eat 'human beans' for dinner!

    With Quentin Blake's iconic illustrations featured throughout, this is an all-time classic children's book.
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    With its phizz-whizzing new cover to celebrate 100 years since Roald Dahl was born, The Enormous Crocodile is a snappy book children will love reading.

    The croc is planning what to have for his lunch. He wants to have something juicy and delicious and he's getting hungrier... but what does he fancy eating? The grumptious brute is looking for someone to tuck into... someone like your children!

    This full-colour edition of the book features illustrations by Quentin Blake (who else?).
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    Especially redesigned to celebrate the Roald Dahl 100 celebrations, Fantastic Mr Fox is a funny story about a quick-witted fox who likes to hatch plans - but will he be able to outsmart the farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean?

    Boggis is a chicken farmer who only eats boiled chickens smothered in fat; Bunce is a duck-and-goose farmer whose dinner gives him a beastly temper; and Bean is a turkey-and-apple farmer who only drinks strong cider... however, none of them are all that smart so is it any surprise the clever Mr Fox is always creeping down the valley and helping himself to their food? When he hears of their plan to Bang-Bang-Bang shoot him dead, Mr Fox comes up with a thoroughly fantastic plan.

    Fast paced and full of brilliant characters, the story is (of course) accompanied by Quentin Blake's iconic illustrations.