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-1960

Roald Dahl's son Theo is born; short story collection Kiss Kiss is published

In July 1960, Theo - Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal's third child and only son - is born.

Four months later, in December 1960, baby Theo is involved in an accident when his pram is hit by a taxi cab in New York City. He suffers serious injuries, developing a medial condition called hydrocephalus or "water on the brain."

In the months and years that follow, Roald becomes heavily involved in Theo’s after-care, helping to invent what became known as the Wade-Dahl-Till valve. This was a cerebral shunt used to drain excess fluid from the brain. By the time the valve was ready for use, Theo had recovered to the point where it was not necessary in his treatment, but the device went on to be used in many thousands of subsequent operations.

Also in 1960, Kiss Kiss, Roald's third collection of short stories is published.

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-July 1961

'Way Out, presented by Roald Dahl, runs for 14 episodes on American TV channel CBS

From July 1961, 'Way Out, presented by Roald Dahl, runs for 14 episodes on American TV channel CBS.

Each 25-minute episode begins with an introduction by Roald and showcases a TV adaptation of a short fantasy horror or science-fiction story. The first episode centres on Roald's own short story William and Mary.

The series, and Roald's dry commentary, both gain positive critical reviews but the run is relatively short due to uneven viewing figures.

Roald would go on to host a similar TV series in Britain in the 1980s called Tales of the Unexpected.

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-November 1961

Publication of Roald's first famous book for children, James and the Giant Peach

1961 sees the publication of Roald's first famous book for children, James and the Giant Peach.

It is initially published in the USA only by Alfred A. Knopf, with whom Roald had previously published many of his earlier short story collections.

The process of writing James and the Giant Peach had been such a positive experience for Roald that by the time of its publication he had also begun work on the story that would later be published as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

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-November 1962

Olivia 'Twenty' Dahl, eldest daughter of Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal, dies

Olivia 'Twenty' Dahl, eldest daughter of Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal, dies from measles encephalitis at the age of seven.

Roald's elder sister Astri was also seven years old when she died in 1920, a coincidence Roald himself notes in Boy.

Roald writes movingly about the death of his daughter in a pamphlet he contributed to The Sandwell Health Authority in 1988, which urges parents to have their children vaccinated against measles. An excerpt is reproduced below.

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-1963

Completes The Magic Finger; wife Patricia Neal wins an Oscar for Hud; first use of the WDT valve

In 1963 Roald Dahl completes another story for children, The Almost Ducks, which is later published as The Magic Finger.

In April, his wife Patricia Neal wins an Oscar for her performance in Hud.

May 1963 sees the first recorded use of the Wade-Dahl-Till valve, developed by Roald in conjunction with engineer Stanley Wade and neurosurgeon Kenneth Till, fitted by Till in an operation on a one-year-old child.

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-1964

Publication of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; birth of Ophelia Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is published in September, initially in the USA with the UK following a few years later. The book is dedicated to Roald Dahl's son Theo. It would go on to become one of the most famous and best-known of Roald's stories.

Roald had begun work on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory shortly after finishing James and the Giant Peach. The idea for the story grew from his own well-documented love of chocolate and his school-day memories of acting as a taster for a well-known chocolate factory.

Also in 1964 36 Hours, a film thriller based on Roald's short story Beware of the Dog, is released. And in May, the Dahl's fourth child, Ophelia, is born.

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-1965

Roald Dahl's wife Patricia Neal suffers a series of strokes in LA

In February 1965, Roald Dahl's wife, actress Patricia Neal, suffers a series of strokes in LA whilst filming John Ford’s Seven Women. She is three months pregnant with their fifth child. 

Following her release from hospital, in May the Dahls return to Great Missenden for Pat's recuperation.

On 4 August 1965, Roald and Pat’s fifth child and fourth daughter, Lucy, is born.

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-1966

Four years after its completion, The Magic Finger is published

Roald Dahl had finished work on The Magic Finger, previously known as The Almost Ducks, in 1962. 

Roald's original publishers feared the story - an anti-hunting parable - would offend the powerful US gun lobby and sat on the finished manuscript for three years until their option to publish expired. 

In 1966 it is eventually published by Harper & Row.

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-1967

Release of You Only Live Twice and first UK publication of children's stories; death of Roald Dahl's mother

In 1967 the James Bond film You Only Live Twice is released. The screenplay, written by Roald Dahl, is adapted from the book by Roald's wartime friend Ian Fleming. It enjoys great Box Office success.

Also in 1967, Roald's children's books James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are both released in the UK by George Allen and Unwin. The Magic Finger follows soon after.

In November 1967, Roald’s mother Sofie Magdalene dies.

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-1968

Release of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; begins work on Fantastic Mr Fox

Having worked on the screenplay for the James Bond film You Only Live Twice in 1967, the following year sees the release of another film with a screenplay by Roald Dahl - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Roald worked on the script alongside the film's director, Ken Hughes, and is said to have created the infamous Child Catcher character.

Following its release, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - which is based on Bond author (and Roald's wartime friend) Ian Fleming's children's book of the same name - goes on to become a classic family film.

During 1968 Roald also begins working on Fantastic Mr Fox and his wife, actress Patricia Neal, is Oscar-nominated for her performance in The Subject Was Roses.

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