Roald Dahl was a prominent Welsh novelist, poet, short story writer, and screenwriter of Norwegian descent.. He gained worldwide fame thanks to very popular works such as James and the Giant Peach (1961) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) Tales of the unexpected (1979) The witches (1983), Matilda (1988) o Water Trot (1990). Born in Llandalf (Cardiff), on September 13, 1916, he had a life full of epic moments that served as inspiration. Its impact has been such that even Emma Watson recommends reading it.
But not everything was easy, the death of loved ones was also a recurring event for him. He was involved in various controversies until his last days, especially because of his anti-Israel statements, or because of the problems that arose during the film adaptations of some of his literary creations. However, he is remembered for his enormous intellectual legacy, as well as for his altruism. Among their contributions stand out the words he invented that were included in the Oxford English dictionary.
Roald Dahl's life
Harald Dahl and Sofie Magdalene Hesselberg were her parents. When little Roald was 3 years old, his sister Astrid died of appendicitis. A few weeks later his father died of pneumonia. Under the circumstances, the logical thing for the widowed mother would have been to return to her native Norway, but she remained in Britain. This she did because her husband's wish was to educate their children in British schools.
Until the age of eight Dahl studied at the Llandalf Cathedral School, He then attended the private St. Peter's School in the coastal town of Weston-super-Mare for six years. Upon his thirteenth birthday, the adolescent Roald was enrolled at Repton School in Derbyshire, where he was captain of the fives school team and worked as a photography assistant.
The birth of the famous Charlie and "Boy"
His stay in Repton originated the plot of his famous children's story Charlie and the chocolate factory (1964)As a local company occasionally sent boxes of sweets to be tasted by the students. He also used to spend summer holidays with his relatives in Norway, which would serve as inspiration for writing. Boy: childhood stories (1984). Although it may seem like an autobiographical work, Dahl always denied it.
After high school, she took an exploration course in Newfoundland with the Public Schools Exploring Society. Later, in 1934, he continued his studies in the United Kingdom with the Royal Dutch Shell, an oil company. Two years later he was sent to Dar-es-Salaam (now Tanzania) to complete his training at the Shell House, where he supplied fuel under the latent danger of lions and highly aggressive insects.
His enlistment in WWII
When World War II broke out in 1939, Roald Dahl moved to Nairobi to enlist in the Royal Air Force. After completing a training of almost eight total hours, he began to fly alone and marvel at the wildlife of Kenya (he used some of those experiences for his books later). In 1940 he continued his advanced training in Iraq, was made an officer and ordered to the 80vo RAF squad.
Near fatal accident
Its first missions consisted mainly of transporting fuel aboard a Gloster Gladiator. In one of them, on September 19, 1940, it suffered a —almost fatal— crash landing in Libya due to an error in the designated location (between British and Italian lines). This was determined in a subsequent RAF investigation. Roald Dahl barely escaped the burning plane with a fractured skull, a broken nose and blind.
Despite doctors predicting that he would never fly again, young Roald regained his vision eight weeks later. of the accident and was discharged in February 1941, returning to his flight duties. By this time, the 80th squad was already close to Athens battling under very unfavorable circumstances against the Axis forces. Still, after two months, Dahl crossed the Mediterranean to join them.
The outlook was totally bleak: 14 Hurricanes and 4 British Bristol Blanheims throughout the Hellenic territory against more than a thousand enemy ships. During his first combat bombing ships at Chalcis, Dahl faced six bombers alone, being able to shoot down one to later escape unscathed. All these warlike experiences were captured in his autobiographical book Flying alone.
First publications, marriage and children
En 1942 he was appointed as a deputy air attaché in Washington. In that city he would make his first publication, initially called a piece of cake (easy peasy). There he related the details of his accident aboard the Gloster Gladiator, but in the end it was released under the title Shot down over Libya. In 1943 his first prose for children appeared, The Gremlins, adapted to the cinema several decades later.
American actress Patricia Neal was his wife from 1953 to 1983, with her he had five children, among them, the author Tessa Dahl. Sadly, in 1962 his seven-year-old daughter Olivia passed away from severe encephalitis caused by the measles virus. Theo, their only son, suffered from hydrocephalus due to an accident during his childhood. As a result of this event, he became involved in the research that led to the invention of the Wade-Dahl-Till valve, a device designed to mitigate hydrocephalus. Another of his daughters, Ophelia, was the co-founder and director of Parthners in Health, a non-profit organization that supports the inhabitants of the poorest areas of the world with medical care.
Second marriage and death
Her granddaughter, model and writer Sophie Dahl (Tessa's daughter), inspired one of the main characters in A good-natured giant (1982) He was married for the second time in 1983, with Felicity Ann d'Abreu Crosland, the best friend of his first wife. Murged on November 23, 1990, at his home in Buckinghamshire, because of leukemia.
Among the postmortem honors received is the opening of the Roald Dahl Children's Gallery at the Bucks County Museum. and the Roald Dahl Museum - Historic Center opened in 2005 in Great Missenden. Likewise, the Foundation that bears his name has continued the commitment of the Welsh author in areas such as neurology, hematology and literacy of the population in vulnerable regions.
Best known books Roald Dahl
Charlie and the chocolate factory
The launch of Roald Dahl's third children's book — after The Gremlins y James and the Giant Peach- It meant a turning point in his literary career. Therefore, it is not surprising that this work has been successfully adapted for the big screen twice (1971 and 2005). The story published in 1964 focuses on Charlie Bucket, a boy from a very poor family who lives with his parents and grandparents, going hungry and cold.
The protagonist's luck changes when he wins one of the five golden tickets that grant a tour through the town's chocolate factory.. The place is usually closed to avoid espionage and is owned by the eccentric millionaire Willy Wonka. This eccentric organized all this to choose an heir among the five participants. After a series of theatrical events, Charlie is named the winner and moves into the factory with his entire family.
Tales of the unexpected
It is a masterful collection of 16 short stories that came to light in 1979. Previously, the stories had been published in different print media. Black humor, suspense and intrigue are common elements in all of them. Others are particularly about revenge (Lady turton, Nunc Dimittis) or resentment (Roast Lamb, The Ascent to Heaven). And, in the same way as in their children's stories, they usually end with a moral fable.
It was published in 1983. Its film adaptation (1990) directed by Nicolas Roeg caused controversy because the changes made, since they did not fit the novel and they displeased Dahl a lot. It is a story told in the first person by someone who had encounters with a couple of witches "who are not like the ones in the stories". The first wanted to give him a snake; with the second it was even worse.
In parallel, the rapporteur tells of the fatal car accident suffered by his parents, for which he was raised by his grandmother in Norway. The nanny describes to him what are the typical characteristics of a witch and warns him about the previous attacks of these to 5 children that she knew. But identifying the sorceresses is complicated, they dress as ordinary women while completing their secret mission: to destroy the children of the world.
This work by Dahl published in 1988 must be the most familiar to Millennials, this due to the popular homonymous feature film (1996) directed by Danny DeVito. The protagonist is Matilda Wormwood, an extremely intelligent five-year-old girl, avid reader and very resourceful. She is the daughter of parents who are quite lazy and ignorant about her virtues.
His teacher, Miss Honey, noticing her extraordinary qualities, asks Principal Trunchbull that Matilda attend a more advanced class. The principal refuses, as she is actually an evil person who enjoys punishing children for no reason. Meanwhile, Matilda develops telekinesis powers, being able to move objects with her gaze.
Miss Honey is curious about the girl's abilities and invites her to her home. There Matilda observes that her teacher is very poor and suffering under the care of her aunt, who is (revealed later) Mrs. Trunchbull. So Matilda devises a plan to get Mrs. Trunchbull out of their lives for good. When she succeeds, Matilda is cheered on by other children and moves on to a more advanced class.
As a consequence, the little prodigy loses her telekinesis powers because she must use all her brain to succeed in her new subjects. In the end, Matilda ends up living under the guardianship of a Mrs. Honey. (who no longer has to deal with Ms. Trunchbull) after the girl's parents were arrested for stealing cars.
The artistic and literary legacy of Roald Dahl
In total, Roald Dahl published 18 children's stories, 3 prose books for children, 2 novels for adults, 8 anthologies of stories, 5 bibliographic memoirs and a play. With regard to the audiovisual world, Dahl drew up 10 film scripts, including the famous installments We only live Twice in (1967), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and A fantasy world (1971), among others.
He also participated as a producer and / or host in 7 television programs in the United Kingdom and in the United States.. His works have been adapted to 13 feature films very well received by the public, such as James and the Giant Peach (1996) The fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and The BFG (2016 - original English title of A good-natured giant). Additionally, his creations have been transferred to 9 series and television shorts.