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Biography of Roald Dahl - Famous Novelist and Poet

Updated on September 12, 2016

An Introduction to Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was a novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter and a fighter pilot. He wrote novels for adults and books for children that were well received and became very popular. Children enjoyed and still enjoy reading his books.

He was a versatile writer. He had a creative imagination and built a world of make-believe for children through his books. Roald Dahl's books are read and enjoyed even today across the world.

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Roald Dahl in Action

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Personal Life of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was born on September 16th, 1916 in Llandaff, South Wales. His was born to Harald and Sofie Dahl, who had their roots in Norwegia. He first studied at Llandaff Cathedral School and later transferred to Repton School.

After he had graduated from Repton, he went on an expedition trip to Newfoundland. He joined Shell Oil Company in Tanzania Africa after he completed his education. Africa was his home till 1939. After this, he joined the Royal Air Force and became a World War II fighter pilot.

Roal Dahl met with a major accident while he was serving in the Mediterranean. He crash-landed in Alexandria Egypt and was seriously injured. He had to undergo a hip replacement and two spinal surgeries and was transferred to Washington DC where he worked as an assistant air attache.

Roald Dahl married Patricia Neal, who was a film actress. Dahl had five children, and he told them bedtime stories. These stories became an inspiration for Roal Dahl's stories that he wrote for children. Dahl divorced Patricia Neal in 1983 and married Felicity Ann Crossland.

Roald Dahl suffered many personal tragedies. His eldest daughter Olivia died after she was affected by measles that later developed into encephalitis. Roald Dahl's son met with a road accident when he was only four months old, and his brain was damaged due to the accident.

Interesting Facts about Roald Dahl

R oald Dahl did not start writing for children until he had children of his own. He always used a pencil and yellow paper to write. He wrote stories for children in a small hut at the bottom of his garden.

Roald Dahl was a Hurricane Fighter Pilot during World War II and had two steel hips and six operations on his spine after his plane crashed. His father Harald and elder sister died when he was only three and his mother had to look after two step children and four children of her own. Roald Dahl was her only son.

His mother was a woman of great strength. She was a pillar of support which was always there for Roald Dahl. As a young boy, Roald Dahl loved to read story books. His mother told Roald Dahl tales of mythical Norwegian creatures. He enjoyed reading adventure stories as a young lad. Captain Marryat was his favorite. He also read Dickens, Thackeray and Ambrose Bierce.

Roald Dahl had a secret diary from the age of eight. To make sure none of his sisters read his secret diary, he put it in a waterproof tin box and tied it to the topmost branch of a huge conker tree in his garden. Every day he used to climb the tree, take the diary out of the tin box and write in it.

Roald Dahl had many passions such as racing greyhounds, breeding homing budgies, medical inventions, orchids, onions, gambling, golf, wine, music, art, and antiques.

Roald Dahl's Writings

Author C.S.Forrester encouraged Roald Dahl to start writing. Encouraged by C.S.Forrester, he started writing and published his first short story in Saturday Evening Post. Roald Dahl also wrote stories and articles for other magazines.

In 1942, Roald Dahl wrote his very first story book for children "The Gremlin." He wrote it for Walt Disney. This story was not very successful, and Dahl went back to writing books for adults. His best-selling books were "Someone Like You" and "Kiss Kiss".

Roald Dahl made up a lot of nonsensical words in his books. His first children's book was inspired by the RAF planes. This book was about a group of naughty creatures messing around with the RAF planes. Roald Dahl requested to be buried with his favorite things - snooker cues, a bottle of burgundy, chocolate, HB pencils and a power saw.

Roald Dahl with Family

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Roald Dahl in RAF Uniform

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Books for Children by Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl published his very first book for children "James and the Giant Peach" in 1961. This book became a huge success. After three years he published another very popular children's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". Both these books were made into movies.

More of Roald Dahl's popular books for children

Fantastic Fox (1970)

The Witches (1983)

Matilda (1988)

Roald Dahl died on November 23, 1990, at the age of 74 due to an unspecified infection. During his lifetime, Roald Dahl published 19 books for children, nine short story collections and many TV and movie scripts.

Roald Dahl lies buried in the churchyard of St. Peter and St. Paul's Church in Great Missenden.

Roald Dahl Plass Plaque

Roald Dahl Plass is a public plaza in Cardiff Bay that is a part of Cardiff, Wales. This place is named after Roald Dahl and is located on the coast along the south of the city.


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    • Nithya Venkat profile image

      Nithya Venkat aka Vellur 2 years ago from Dubai

      tillsontitan thank you for reading and your appreciation. Thanks for the vote ups too.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      What a fascinating life Dahl had, though laced with sorrow. I don't think there's a person living that isn't familiar with at least one of his books, even if it is through the movies.

      I never knew he was married to Patricia Neal!

      Great biography, very well done.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.