Roald Dahl was such a popular children's writer that every year, 13 September (his birthday) is World Roald Dahl Day. This year is the hundredth anniversary of his birth, and there are celebrations galore.
Dahl, who died in 1990, is best remembered as the author of irreverent classics like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Twits, or The BFG (recently adapted for the big screen by Steven Spielberg). But he was also a talented author of fiendishly twisted short stories for adults – their TV adaptation as Tales of the Unexpected was the 1980s answer to Alfred Hitchcock Presents…
He had an eventful life, the early parts of which are memorably recounted in his two-part biography Boy and Flying Solo. Boy covers his childhood years in a Norwegian family in Wales. His father died when he was just four and his indomitable mother chose to stay in Wales and continue her husband's business. Dahl fondly remembers summer pilgrimages to Norway, and less fondly having his adenoids removed without either a warning or an anaesthetic! He also tells many tales of boarding school, which is where he began the habit of writing to his mother weekly, signing simply "Boy". The story of his group of friends taking revenge on an unpleasant sweetshop owner was clearly the inspiration for some of the macabre humour in his books. (Hint: a dead mouse featured prominently.)
Flying Solo follows Dahl after he leaves school and goes to work for an oil company in Africa, and then joins the RAF in the Second World War and suffers a near fatal crash.
Roald Dahl Day
Roald Dahl Day was first celebrated in 2006. Fans are encouraged to dress up as his characters and lots of schools get involved in Dahl-themed events to raise money for Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity, which he founded in honour of his sister and daughter who died in childhood and his son who survived a serious childhood accident.
This year's celebration will be particularly special for the centenary. Watch this space for more information soon.
> Teaching with Roald Dahl
> The BFG Webpicks