” Roald Dahl was a spy, an ace fighter pilot, a chocolate historian and a medical inventor.”
Born in Llandaff, Wales, on 13th September 1916 to Norwegian parents, Harald Dahl and Sofie Magdalene Hesselberg, Dahl was named after Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian who had been the first man to reach the South Pole just four years earlier. A heroic start in life. But his early years were blighted by the tragic deaths of his older sister, Astri, and his father.
Wanting the best for her only son, his mother sent him to boarding school – first to St Peter’s, Weston-super-Mare; then, in 1929, to Repton – where many bizarre and memorable events would later be recounted in Boy. Pupils at Repton were invited to trial chocolate bars, a memory that stayed with Dahl throughout his life, inspiring Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Schooldays happily behind him, Dahl’s lust for travel took him first to Canada, then to East Africa, where he worked for an oil company until the outbreak of World War Two. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force at 23 years old.
In September 1940, Dahl received severe injuries to his head, nose and back when his Gladiator crash-landed in the Western Desert. After six months recovering from his injuries in Alexandria he returned to action, taking part in The Battle of Athens. Later, after a posting to Washington, he supplied intelligence to MI6.
In 1953 Roald Dahl married the American actress, Patricia Neal, with whom he had five children. They divorced after 30 years, and he later married Felicity “Liccy” Crosland, who has furthered Roald’s legacy through the foundation of Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity and The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.
In 1960 Roald helped invent the Wade-Dahl-Till valve, prompted by the need to alleviate the head injuries endured by his son after an accident in New York.
If you want to own a small piece of his legacy visit my auction for his rhyming couplets a “retaling” (hee hee hee) of six classic fairy tales