Today is legendary children’s author Roald Dahl’s birthday. Not surprisingly, it’s also Roald Dahl day. When I was in fifth grade, I had a teacher who adored Dahl, and for at least fifteen minutes every day, she would read to us from one of his books. It was my introduction to his work, and I have never stopped loving those stories.
In honor of Roald Dahl, here are 10 things you should know about him.
- His parents named him after Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole.
- In 1940, Dahl was a member of the No. 80 Squadron RAF, part of the British air force. While flying from Abu Sueir to Mersa Matruh in Egypt, he had to attempt a landing in the desert, because he was running low on fuel and couldn’t find the airstrip where he was supposed to land. The plane crashed against a boulder and Dahl was temporarily blinded, but still managed to drag himself out of the plane wreckage before passing out.
- The inspiration for one of his most popular works, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, came from his days at the Repton boarding school. The students there were given trials of chocolate bars to try.
- Although known best for all of his children’s books, Dahl also wrote horror stories for adults, even winning a few Edgar Awards.
- Six of Dahl’s stories made their way onto Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and he also created a long-running TV show called Tales of the Unexpected, on the air in the U.K. from 1978-1988.
- The James Bond film You Only Live Twice was written by Dahl, as was the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
- His childhood was filled with tragedy. When Dahl was just three years old, his older sister died from appendicitis. That same year, his father died of pneumonia. After their deaths, Dahl’s mother decided to remain in the U.K. so that her son could get the best education possible.
- After his son suffered a sudden head injury, Dahl stepped out of the literary world and into the medical arena. He helped to invent a cerebral shunt that drained excess fluid from the brain. It became known as the Wade-Dahl-Till valve, and the inventors refused to accept any profit from the device.
- His favorite authors were Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, William Makepeace Thackeray, Frederick Marryat, and Dylan Thomas. In fact, after visiting Thomas’s writing shed, he ended up building a replica of it in his own yard to write in.
- After Dahl died in 1990 from a rare form of cancer, his family buried him with chocolate, pencils, snooker cues, burgundy, and, most notably, a power saw. (I don’t need to know this guy’s family to know I adore them immensely!)
Roald Dahl wrote so many great books, and too many to list all of them here. But here are some to help you get started. (Or you can just buy a whole set of 15 of books!)
- James and the Giant Peach
- The BFG
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- The Witches
- George’s Marvelous Medicine
- Fantastic Mr. Fox
- Boy: Tales of Childhood
- The Twits
- Danny and the Champion of the World
- The Magic Finger
- Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
- Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories
What’s your favorite Roald Dahl book? Got any fond memories of reading his books while you were young? Leave a comment down below!