The Gremlins Background

The Gremlins Background

The Gremlins is considered by many to be Roald Dahl's first piece of writing for children. He started working on it in 1942 after his first considerable writing "Shot Down Over Libya" was published in the Saturday Evening Post. He was employed by the British Embassy in Washington, DC when he sent for approval his finished Gremlins story. From there, it was handed over by Sidney Bernstein (A movie producer/entrepreneur) on to Walt Disney, who enjoyed the story so much, who wanted to make it a movie.

Gremlins are small creatures responsible for the numerous mechanical failures on aircraft as the pilot, Gus, finds out. Dahl took inspiration from RAF folklore and the many tales of gremlins he heard during his time as a pilot, and his story goes on to tell how Gus tames the gremlins and convinces them to help him return to flying.

A smaller version of the story emerged in the American general interest magazine Cosmopolitan in 1942 under Dahl's pen name "Pegasus." And later, The Gremlins was published as a book by Walt Disney and Random House with profits going to the RAF Benevolent Fund. Dahl bought 50 copies, giving to the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, who answered with enthusiasm and apparently read the story to her grandchildren.

While James and the Giant Peach was released nearly 20 years later and held as Dahl's first novel written for children, The Gremlins was advertised as a children's story in the 1940's and continues to be an early example of the appeal of his writing to a younger audience. It was re-published in 2006 by Dark Horse Books.

The Gremlins also assisted the little critters, well-known in RAF folklore to spread into popular culture. Stephen Spielberg's, 1984 film, Gremlins, is said to be inspired by the creatures of Dahl's story.

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