Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff, Wales on September 13, 1916. During his youth, his mother and father heavily influenced his reading and writing habits. As a child, Roald enjoyed hearing his mother tell stories about trolls and mythical creatures. Dahl also admired his father’s many diaries, some of which documented the Great War of 1914-1918. When he was eight years old Roald started keeping his own journal. To protect it from the eyes of his siblings, he would keep the journal in a box tied to the top of a tree that his sisters were too scared to climb.
Childhood brought both high and low points for Dahl. Attending school was one of his least favorite activities. While going to public school in Derbyshire, his English teacher reportedly said that Dahl was, “quite incapable of marshalling his thoughts on paper.” However, Dahl’s favorite childhood experiences of taking trips to the sweet shop and testing new products from England’s famous Cadbury chocolate factory later inspired Dahl’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Dahl’s official writing career began as an adult when a friend of his whom worked at the Saturday Evening Post asked Dahl to write an article describing what life was like during the war. Dahl took the opportunity to detail his own experiences. After expecting to have to rework Dahl’s submission, his friend excitedly responded to his article with a check for $900 and a letter back saying, “Did you know you were a writer – I haven’t changed a word.”
For the first fifteen years of his career Dahl focused on writing short stories for adults, but decided to switch to children’s books once he had kids of his own. James at the Giant Peach, Dahl’s first children’s book, started out as a bedtime story for his daughters. Many of his other stories were created in this same way.
Although on November 23, 1990 Dahl passed away at the age of 74, his work still lives on in the hearts of children. His books have been translated into 34 languages and have received awards such as the Whitbread Award and the Children’s Book Award. Some of his most popular titles are Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Revolting Rhymes.