Roald Dahl (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
Roald Dahl is one of the most successful children’s authors of all time. Many of his works, including James and the Giant Peach (1961), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964), and The BFG (1982), are considered classic works of juvenile fiction, known and loved by children not only in his native Great Britain and the United States but throughout the world. According to Jeremy Treglown, in the 1980’s more than eleven million of Dahl’s children’s books were sold in paperback in Britain alone, more than the total number of children born there during that decade. Remarkably, Dahl stumbled into this career almost by accident. He established a reputation as a short-story writer in the 1940’s and did not begin the work that made him world-famous until some twenty years later.
Treglown’s “unauthorized” biography provides a refreshing antidote to the mythos Dahl carefully constructed around his own life. Previously published biographical works on Dahl, including Barry Farrell’s Pat and Roald (1969) and Chris Powling’s Roald Dahl (1983), accepted Dahl’s public persona at face value, a persona further reinforced by the autobiographical Boy (1984) and Going Solo (1986). Treglown’s biography is written without the cooperation or consent of Dahl’s widow and family, although he did have access to correspondence and interviewed many of Dahl’s closest friends and editors, his...
(The entire section is 1830 words.)
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Roald Dahl (Magill Book Reviews)
Roald Dahl is one of the most successful children’s authors of all time. Many of his works, including JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH (1961), CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1964), and THE BFG (1982), are considered classic works of juvenile fiction, known and loved by children not only in his native Great Britain and the United States but also throughout the world. Dahl, who established a reputation as a short story writer in the 1940’s, stumbled into this remarkable career almost by accident. He did not begin the work that was to make him a household name until more than twenty years after his initial literary success.
Dahl’s life reads more like fiction than biography, replete with adventure, romance, and tragedy. He lost both his sister and father to illness by the age of four, was a certified war hero with the RAF by the age of twenty-five, served at the British Embassy in wartime Washington, D.C., was involved with the British Intelligence Agency, and became a published author at twenty-six. His thirty-year marriage to famous actress Patricia Neal was fraught with tragedy: Their only son suffered severe brain damage in an accident as a baby, their oldest daughter died of the measles at age seven, and Neal suffered a severe stroke and arduous recovery period.
ROALD DAHL is the first biography of the renowned author to penetrate the considerable mythos that he created for himself. Treglown looks beyond the charming but cantankerous...
(The entire section is 329 words.)