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-1979

My Uncle Oswald

Meet Oswald Hendryks Cornelius. Aside from being thoroughly debauched, strikingly attractive and astonishingly wealthy, Uncle Oswald is the greatest bounder, bon vivant and fornicator of all time.

My Uncle Oswald is a comic novel for adults. Featuring a character Roald had first written about in the short story The Visitor, it introduces its readers to the unnamed narrator's uncle, telling the story of his early career and erotic education through the guise of the uncle's own diary.

My Uncle Oswald became a full-length novel after Playboy magazine - original publishers of The Visitor - asked Roald if he would be willing to contribute another Oswald story for their 25th anniversary edition. The story soon turned into a book and was published in 1979. Roald later described My Uncle Oswald as "the longest and dirtiest story" he had ever written.

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-1991

The Vicar of Nibbleswicke

The Reverend Robert Lee, Vicar of Nibbleswicke and a charming and God-fearing man, causes utter confusion among his devout parishioners...

The Vicar of Nibbleswicke tells the tale of Robert Lee, who, having suffered with severe dyslexia as a boy, successfully overcame his problems with the help of The Dyslexia Institute. But soon after arriving in Nibbleswicke as the town's new reverend, he develops a very unusual condition the local doctor calls Back-to-Front Dyslexia.

Written in the last years of his life in aid of The Dyslexia Institute, The Vicar of Nibbleswicke was published in 1991, shortly after Roald's death in November 1990. As his principal illustrator Quentin Blake reveals in a footnote published at the end of the story, Roald auctioned all rights to The Vicar of Nibbleswicke to benefit The Dyslexia Institute. Quentin says: "It's a privilege to be associated, among our many collaborations, with Roald in this book; a landmark of both his concern for people and his passionate belief in the importance of reading." 

Today, these twin concerns continue to inspire the work of the two Roald Dahl charities: Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity, which helps make life better for seriously ill children, and The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Roald's home-town of Great Missenden, where reading and literature are celebrated.

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-1983

The Witches

Witches absolutely detest children. To a witch, a child smells like dogs' droppings. And now the Grand High Witch is planning to get rid of every child in England - can anybody stop them?

The Witches tells the story of a brave young boy and his Norwegian grandmother as they battle against England's child-hating witches. It continues to feature in lists dedicated to the scariest children's books more than 30 years after it was first published. Especially around Halloween.

When he was a child himself, Roald Dahl used to spend every summer holiday with his family in Norway, where he was inspired by bedtime stories of witches and magic. He wrote about these holidays in Boy: Tales of Childhood. It is also said that the grandmother in The Witches was partially inspired by Roald's own mother. Roald dedicated the book to his wife, Liccy.

A film version of the story, starring Angelica Huston as the witches' leader The Grand High Witch, was released in 1990. The main difference between the film and the original story is the ending - in the book, there is no spell cast to change the boy's state back to what it was before the witches found him. The film also gives its central character the name Luke, whereas in the book we don't find out the name of either the boy who narrates the story or his grandmother.

In 1983, the year it was published, The Witches won three awards: The New York Times Outstanding Books Award, The Federation of Children's Book Groups Award and The Whitbread Award.

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-1977

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

Seven tales of the bizarre and unexpected - enter a brilliant, sinister and wholly unpredictable world...

In The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, first published in 1977, Roald Dahl set out to create a collection of short stories for older children. The title story,The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, is the longest in the collection. 

As well as four fictional stories it also includes The Mildenhall Treasure - an account written by Roald in 1946 about the discovery of a hoard of Roman silver found by Suffolk ploughman Gordon Butcher - as well as Lucky Break, Roald's account of how he became a writer, and A Piece of Cake, previously featured in the collection Over To You and included again here as a companion piece for Lucky Break.

The seven stories featured are:

  • The Boy Who Talked with Animals
  • The Hitch-hiker
  • The Mildenhall Treasure
  • The Swan
  • The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar
  • Lucky Break
  • A Piece of Cake

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-1967

You Only Live Twice

You only live twice... and "twice" is the only way to live!

In 1966 Roald Dahl was approached by James Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, who asked him if he would be interested in writing the screenplay for You Only Live Twice, the fifth film in the Bond series. Roald agreed and began working on the film with input from LA television writer Harold Jack Bloom. 

You Only Live Twice was loosely based on Ian Fleming's 1964 novel of the same name, but it was the first of the Bond films to discard much of Fleming's original plot. Roald knew Bond's creator Ian Fleming from his war days, though Fleming had died two years before Roald began work on his screenplay. They had been friends, but Roald was not keen on You Only Live Twice. The producers agreed with his opinion that it was not Fleming's best work and allowed Roald and Bloom to amend the story, resulting in a movie plot that differed quite significantly from the original book.

In the film, Bond - played by Sean Connery - travels to Japan at the height of the Cold War, after American and Soviet spacecrafts disappear in orbit. There he faces Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of global terrorist organisation SPECTRE. Some of the plot details in the film were to crop up later in Roald's book Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

Upon its release in 1967, You Only Live Twice enjoyed great success. The experience encouraged producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli to ask Roald whether he would be interested in adapting another of Fleming's books - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

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