Roald Dahl Biography

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Roald Dahl was born September 13, 1916, in Llandaff, South Wales. At the age of eight, he was sent to a boarding school in southwest England and went on to attend Repton, a prestigious boarding school near Derby. One of his most vivid memories of his Repton years concerns the testing of chocolate bars. Cadbury, a famous chocolate manufacturer, would occasionally give the students some new types of chocolate bars and ask the students to rate them. While he was performing this pleasant task, Dahl would fantasize about working in the lab where these chocolates were invented. He had no idea, though, that he would one day base a book on these daydreams.

Upon graduating from Repton in 1933, he went to work for Shell Oil Company and was stationed in East Africa. With the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Royal Air Force and became a fighter pilot. He survived a fiery crash in Libya and numerous dogfights over Greece before he was disabled and sent back to England. During the 1940s, he wrote a series of stories about his war experiences. The stories were well received, and he decided to become a full-time writer. Throughout the 1950s, he wrote numerous short stories, specializing in what one critic called "the eerie, macabre, chiller-type story."

Dahl began writing for young people in the early 1960s. His first children's book, James and the Giant Peach, was published in 1961 and was followed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1964. Since then he has published numerous books for young readers, including a second book about Charlie entitled Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (1972). Several of Dahl's children's books have met with strong disapproval from some adults who think that his stories are vulgar, excessively violent, and encourage disrespect for authority. Despite these charges, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and several of his other children's books remain tremendously popular. He died on November 23, 1990 in Oxford, England.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff, near Cardiff, in South Wales, in 1916, to Norwegian-born parents. He was the only boy in his father’s second family. Dahl’s father and uncle had left Norway to seek their fortunes, and Dahl’s father found it in equipping ships sailing out of the busy Cardiff docks. By the time Dahl was born, his father, who died when Dahl was four, had become wealthy. Dahl attended an Anglican public school in Llandaff before going to a prepatory school in Weston-Super-Mare, across the Severn Estuary from Cardiff, and then to the Repton School in Yorkshire. Dahl hated the public school atmosphere and the separation from his family; he was prevented from becoming a prefect at the Repton School because of his lack of seriousness about school discipline.

After he was graduated from the Repton School in 1932, Dahl went on a school-sponsored exploration of the interior of Newfoundland before joining the Shell Oil Company. He spent several years working in London before being sent to Dar-es-Salaam as a Shell Oil representative. In 1938, he joined the Royal Air Force, and, despite his unusual height, he was trained as a pilot. Though he was wounded once, he served as a fighter pilot in Africa, Greece, and Syria. He also served in intelligence units and was made a wing commander. His stories collected in Over to You: Ten Stories of Flyers and Flying are based on these experiences.

In 1953, Dahl married actress Patricia Neal, and they had five children, one of whom died of the measles at age seven. Dahl began writing stories for children after making up bedtime tales for his own children. In the late 1960’s, Neal suffered an incapacitating illness, and Dahl helped her through a slow recovery. In 1983, they divorced, and Dahl remarried. He died in November, 1990.


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

0111207182-Dahl.jpg Roald Dahl (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Roald Dahl was born on September 13, 1916, to a Norwegian family living in Wales. When he was three, his older sister Astri suddenly became ill and died, and his father...

(The entire section is 1,967 words.)