British literary giant Roald Dahl had an interesting heritage; born in Wales to Norwegian parents, Dahl was raised by his mother after his father's death. Despite his obvious literary genius, Dahl did not attend college after graduating from high school, choosing instead to join an exploration to Newfoundland before becoming a salesman where he would sell oil using little ditties that he penned. This was the first time he had written rhyming poetry and it was a great success.
Dahl did not start to write seriously until he had become a father himself, and he wrote with his own children in mind. This is actually very evident in his poems; they read like mischievous tales told to an excitable child at bedtime. His poems soon took a childishly macabre turn, it is believed because of the tragedy in his own life. His daughter Olivia died of measles when she was seven years old, and his son, Theo, was brain damaged in an accident.
There are two main volumes of Dahl's poems; one, Revolting Rhymes, is a darkly disgusting reworking of traditional fairy tales, involving a healthy amount of the endlessly fascinating guts and gore that young kids, boys especially, seem to love. The other, tales of fictional children and tales about inventive animals. His shorter poems were often compared to the limericks of Hillaire Beloc. Dahl also wrote poetic character studies about the characters he later wove into one of his most successful and best-known books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
In total, Dahl wrote nineteen books for children, winning the Whitbread Award in 1993 for The Witches and the Children's Book Award from the Federation of Children's Books for Matilda.
Dahl passed away in 1990 as a result of a blood disorder. His second wife and his children established The Roald Dahl Foundation and the Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity, offering grants in hematology. The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Center is located in Buckinghamshire, England, where he spent most of his adult life.