2016 is a remarkable year for books. Why? Because this very year would have seen the 100th birthday of none other than celebrated author Roald Dahl. It was the fantastical imagination of Mr. Dahl that brought us the tales of The B.F.G, The Twits, James and The Giant Peach, darling Matilda and not forgetting a young boy named Charlie… And The Chocolate Factory we of course know all about.
But what about old Roald? Well, it all started in the Welsh town of Llandaff, near Cardiff. He was born on 13th September – as a child he was sent to gain a private school education at Repton. His heart happened to lay in Tenby in Pembrokeshire, where he would holiday every year with his mother and sisters. He loved the place so much, in a letter to his mother he once wrote “An Easter holiday is hardly an Easter holiday without Tenby.”
Later on in his fascinating life, Mr. Dahl went on to become a fighter pilot. He fought for the Royal Air force in World War II, after which he turned his hand to writing short stories for various publications. He did not get paid for this however, until he had an article published in the Saturday Evening Post. This was originally titled, Shot Down Over Libya and was very much inspired by his experiences as a war pilot. Although he got paid, the article was published anonymously – he didn’t actually put his name to it until later!
And as they say, practice makes perfect. For with each story Dahl penned, his imaginative creations became more and more extraordinary. He toyed around with short stories for several years, but it was not until he published his first children’s book, James and The Giant Peach, in 1961 that he became recognised and revered as an author.
Most people don’t know that many of the stories and characters in Roald Dahl’s books are actually based on his own experiences throughout his life. Did you know that in his school days, he was a taste-tester for a well known chocolatier? You can guess which book was influenced by that part of his life!
Things have changed a lot since Dahl was a boy. It’s unlikely he ever imagined his tales, as many know them today. It was in 1971 that his story of a young boy searching for a Golden Ticket was adapted for the big screen. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring the late Gene Wilder was to be the first of many. Since then, many of Dahl’s stories have gone on to be feature film adaptations including the most recently, The BFG, which was in cinemas earlier this year.
As you can imagine, we’re true to the books all the way. While we do love the films, we think the very best way to enjoy Dahl’s inspiring mind is through his words on the pages he brings alive. We’ll be looking at our favourite Roald Dahl books in the coming weeks, in honour of what would have been this fascinating man’s 100th birthday. Check back to see which titles make the cut!