"The Landlady" and Other Short Stories

"The Landlady" and Other Short Stories Study Guide

Though he is mostly known for his children's fiction, Roald Dahl was also a prolific writer of adult short stories, poetry, screenplays, and memoirs. In fact, Dahl first gained acclaim as an adult short-story writer, and "The Landlady" and Other Short Stories showcases Dahl's literary progression. Dahl's stories changed in subject, tone and audience over time, and explored themes and motifs ranging from femmes fatales, to travel, to Royal Air Force pilots.

Dahl's short stories were often punctuated by macabre and darkly humorous scenarios, with many centering death, revenge, imagination and cruelty. Dahl's stripped-back use of language also highlights his vibrant and often ingenious characters. Dahl's early stories, like "An African Story," and "Beware of the Dog," feature characters who serve in the Royal Air Force during World War II (as did Dahl himself). Later in life, Dahl wrote stories with several femmes fatales, including "The Landlady," "Lamb to the Slaughter," and "The Way Up to Heaven."

By the end of his life, Dahl focused more on children's fiction. Despite this, his short stories still provide memorable, jarring, and confounding endings that leave a strong impression with their audience.