Roald Dahl: The Man Behind the Imagination

Today, let’s have some fun. Many of you probably grew up reading novels such as James and the Giant Peach, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Roald Dahl is still loved by many today. His stories have been passed on to younger generations who also love and cherish his work.


Photo: Penguin

Roald Dahl was born on September 13th, 1916 in Llandaff, South Wales. Unfortunately, Roald Dahl had to deal with tragedy at a young age when his father passed away Roald Dahl attended the Llandaff Cathedral School until he played a practical joke on his principal. The principal gave him a very harsh beating, which Dahl’s mother disliked. She enrolled her son at St. Peters, but Roald eventually transferred to a private school called Repton. Roald Dahl did not excel as a student, he disliked the rules that the school forced on him and was often times extremely restless. Once Dahl graduated from Repton in 1932, he began working with a company in Tanzania called Shell Oil.

Roald continued to work for Shell Oil until 1939 when he decided to join the Royal Air Force. He trained in Nairobi, Kenya and went on to become a fighter pilot during World War II. As a fighter pilot, Dahl was serving time in the Mediterranean before he crashed his plane in Alexandria, Egypt. He sustained a serious skull injury as well as injuries to his hip and spine. He was then transferred to Washington D.C.

After transferring to Washington D.C. Roald Dahl met the author C.S. Forrester, who encouraged Dahl to pursue a writing career. Roald began publishing stories in the Saturday Evening Post and The New Yorker. Finally in 1942, Roald Dahl wrote his first children’s story titled, The Gremlins. Unfortunately, the story didn’t gain the popularity that Dahl was hoping and he returned to writing adult fiction.

In 1953, Roald married actress Patricia Neal. The very same year he also published a collection of short stories titled, Someone Like You. It took a long time for Dahl to establish himself as reputable children’s author. In 1961, James and the Giant Peach was published. The book was an instant success among critics and the general public. Three years later Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published. Both of these books were so successful that they went on to have their own film adaptations. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has had two separate movies made since its release in 1964. Other novels that followed include, Fantastic Fox, The Witches, and Matilda. All of these novels were very successful, making Roald Dahl a household name.

On November 12th, 1990 the author was checked into a hospital for a severe infection. On November 23rd, 1990 Roald Dahl passed away at the age of 74.

Roald Dahl lived a long and successful life as a children’s author. His books were very popular when he was alive and have continued to grow in popularity. Many children today will continue to pass down their beloved Roald Dahl books to their young children.