Biography of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff, near the Welsh capital of Cardiff, on September 13, 1916, to parents Harald Dahl and Sofie Magdalene Hesselberg. Dahl was raised by his single mother after the death of his father and sister when he was three. Dahl attended boarding school throughout his 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 19 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 to 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 is also known for writing 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

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...

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...

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 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...

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...

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...

The Sound Machine is a short story by British author Roald Dahl that was first published in The New Yorker magazine in September 1949. It later appeared in three different collections of Dahl's stories; Tales, Someone Like You and Grammatatizator....

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,...

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...