Biography of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was a British author of novels, short stories, poems, and screenplays. He is most notable for his popular works of children's fiction, several of which have been adapted into major films, such as Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach.

Born in Llandaff, near the Welsh capital of Cardiff, to Norwegian immigrant parents, Dahl was raised by his mother after the death of his father and sister when he was three. Dahl attended boarding school throughout childhood and joined the Public Schools Exploring Society on an expedition to Newfoundland before becoming a salesman for Shell Oil in Dar es Salaam. Dahl enlisted in the Royal Air Force in Nairobi at the start of World War II. After a crash landing in the Libyan desert, Dahl wrote Shot Down Over Libya, an account of the crash. After the war, while raising five children, Dahl began writing children's stories. Over the course of his life, he worked as a novelist, short-story writer, poet, fighter pilot, screenwriter, inventor, spy and chocolate historian.

Dahl's nineteen children's books include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Whitbread Award-winner The Witches, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Twits, George's Marvelous Medicine, and Matilda, a winner of the Children’s Book Award from the Federation of Children’s Book Groups. Dahl was also awarded the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award three times. Dahl's books are widely available in illustrated editions, and several—including James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Fantastic Mr. Fox—have been adapted for film. Dahl is also known for a large collection of adult short stories, including "The Landlady," "Beware of the Dog," "An African Story," and several others. Dahl has also written screenplays for film and television, including the television shows Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Tales of the Unexpected, and films like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the James Bond film You Only Live Twice.

Dahl died on November 23, 1990 of myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare blood disorder. He was 74.


Study Guides on Works by Roald Dahl

Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life: The Country Stories of Roald Dahl is a collection of stories written by notable children’s author, Roald Dahl. The book was published in 1989, by publishing house, Jonathan Cape. Quentin Blake, frequent collaborator of...

The BFG was written in 1982 by Roald Dahl. Dahl was a well-known author at this point, having already published popular books such as Fantastic Mr. Fox, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Danny, the Champion of the World. These books...

Boy: Tales of Childhood is an autobiography written by notable children’s author, Roald Dahl. The book was published in 1984, by publishing house, Jonathan Cape. Quentin Blake, frequent collaborator of Dahl’s, did the illustrations for the...

In Danny the Champion of the World, one of Roald Dahl's countless children's books, Dahl tells the story of the eponymous Danny, who lives with his father in a caravan behind their gas station and garage. Danny, who is still dealing with the death...

Although he is best-known for his novels, Roald Dahl wrote dozens of poems. Quite a few of his poems are collected in Dirty Beasts (published in 1983), and all of those poems deal with, as the publisher says, "unsuspecting animals."

In one poem...

The Enormous Crocodile (originally published in 1978) is one of famed British author Roald Dahl's many books for children. It tells the story of the eponymous Enormous Crocodile, who is almost always hungry. To satiate that desire, the enormous...

Esio Trot (originally published in 1990) is one of Roald Dahl's last books, but also one of his best. It tells the story of an old and lonely man called Mr. Hoppy who desperately tries to connect with a person whom he has admired for quite a long...

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a children’s book written in 1968 by famed author Roald Dahl. Its main characters are a number of personified animals, including the Mr. Fox of the title. The story follows his adventures as he tries to outwit the farmer who...

In what is one of his many children's books, British writer Roald Dahl's George's Marvelous Medicine (1981) tells, as the book's title suggests, George's story. Specifically, the book follows George as he has to deal with his cantankerous and...

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me is a children’s story written by notable children’s author, Roald Dahl. The book was published in 1985. Quentin Blake, frequent collaborator of Dahl’s, did the illustrations for the book.The story revolves around...

Going Solo is a story written by notable children’s author, Roald Dahl. The book was published in 1986, by publishing house, Jonathan Cape.The book is an autobiography of Dahl’s own life and adventures, and is a continuation of his previous books,...

The Gremlinsis consideredby manyto be Roald Dahl's first piece of writing for children. He startedworking on it in 1942 after his first considerable writing "Shot Down Over Libya" was published in theSaturday Evening Post. He was employed by the...

James and the Giant Peach was written in 1961 and was well received by the public. Originally titled James and the Giant Cherry, the book was given a new name because Dahl deemed a peach to be "prettier, bigger and squishier than a cherry." The...

Kiss Kiss is the third collection of short stories published by legendary children’s author Roald Dahl. Like his first two collections, however, these are not stories intended for children, but rather have come to represent the iconic and...

Narrated by an eight-year-old girl growing up in the United Kingdom, The Magic Finger (published in 1962) is no doubt one of famed author Roald Dahl's most interesting works, mainly because of the main question it poses readers: "What happens when...

Matilda is a novel written by the famed children’s author Roald Dahl. It was first published in 1988 by Jonathan Cape in London. The book was illustrated by Dahl’s frequent collaborator Quentin Blake. It has been made into an audiobook, a feature...

The Minpins is a story written by notable children’s author, Roald Dahl. The book was published posthumously in 1991, by publishing house, Jonathan Cape. Quentin Blake, frequent collaborator of Dahl’s, did the illustrations for the book, as well...

One of acclaimed British author Roald Dahl's books written for adults, My Uncle Oswald (originally published in 1979), tells the story of the eponymous Uncle Oswald, who one day discovers that the so-called "Sudanese Blister Beetle" has tremendous...

My Year is both a review of a life and a countdown to death; during the final year of his life, Roald Dahl kept a detailed journal, and month by month looked back on his journey, his experiences and the decisions that he made that led him to be...

Everyone thinks that they know the plot of traditional fairy tales forwards, backwards and upside down; however, Roald Dahl intends to prove otherwise with the shortest book he ever wrote, Revolting Rhymes, which is a collection of poetic parodies...

Rhyme Stew is a story written by notable children’s author Roald Dahl. The book was published in 1989, by publishing house, Jonathan Cape in the UK, and Viking, in the US. Quentin Blake, frequent collaborator of Dahl’s, did the illustrations for...

Although British author is best-known for his novels, he wrote countless short stories. But Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories (originally published in 1983) feature none of Dahl's short stories. Instead, Dahl collected 14 of what he considered to...

Some Time Never signals a major change for famed British author Roald Dahl. Well-known for his children's books (like The BFG), Some Time Never marks Dahl's first foray into adult literature. It tells the story of a group called the Gremlins, who...

Originally published in 1953, Someone Like You is famed British author Roald Dahl's collection of short stories. Dahl opined that the collection is for adults, and adults alone. Someone Like You includes eighteen short stories ,some of which were...

Roald Dahl's 1949 short story "The Sound Machine" is about Klausner, an obsessive man who invents a machine that allows him to hear high-pitched sounds otherwise inaudible to the human ear. While testing his sound machine, Klausner discovers that...

The title Switch Bitch (originally published in 1974) is likely to surprise bibliophiles and general audiences alike, for British author Roald Dahl is best-known for his children's books like The BFG. To that end, Switch Bitch is a collection of...

Over the course of his long and illustrious career, British author Roald Dahl wrote approximately two dozen books. Among those books was The Twits (1979), which is one of Dahl's many children's books. It follows a couple called Mr. and Mrs Twit,...

Over the course of his long and illustrious career, British author Roald Dahl wrote several dozen short stories. Two of his most famous are collected in Two Fables (originally published in 1986). They are called "Princess and the Poacher," which...

The Vicar of Nibbleswicke is a children’s story written by notable children’s author, Roald Dahl. The book was published posthumously in 1991, by publishing house, Century. Quentin Blake, frequent collaborator of Dahl’s, did the illustrations for...

According to Roald Dahl - at least in this short story anyway - the way up to Heaven is not through good deeds, or selflessness, or attention to others, but via a broken elevator in a fancy family home, although he never actually comes out and...

The Witches was written in 1983 by famed children’s author Roald Dahl. At this point, Dahl had written many of his most well known works, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. The book was dedicated to Roald Dahl...