We get a lot of questions here at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, so we thought we’d squibble down the answers to the top 7 questions we get about Roald Dahl’s life – enjoy!
Roald Dahl was born in Wales, in a village called Llandaff just outside of Cardiff. He was born on 13 September 1916. His parents, Harald and Sofie Magdalene Dahl, were Norwegian and moved from Norway to Wales before Roald was born.
Roald grew up in Wales, but went to St Peter’s boarding school in Weston-Super-Mare when he was nine, and Repton School in Derbyshire when he was 13 until he was 17. He also spent lots of happy summers in Tenby on the Southwest coast of Wales.
Above: Roald Dahl at school in Weston-Super-Mare in around 1925.
After finishing school Roald worked for Shell, and as part of that he was sent to Dar-Es-Salaam in Tanzania for a year, in 1938. He stayed in Northern Africa until 1941, fighting in the RAF during World War Two. Following an injury Roald was sent to the United States of America in 1942 to help the war effort as an Assistant Air Attache, and he lived in Washington DC and New York. When he moved back to the UK, he moved to Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire. Lots of his books are inspired by bits and pieces of the Buckinghamshire countryside, and he stayed there until he died.
Roald Dahl is his full name! Roald is a Norwegian name, and is actually pronounced more like “Roo-al” rather than “Rold”.
Above: Roald Dahl and Walt Disney.
Roald Dahl’s first book was called The Gremlins and this was about little creatures who lived in RAF planes. He wrote this in 1943, and it was very nearly made into a film by Walt Disney!
The last children’s book Roald wrote was The Minpins which was published after his death in 1991, and later retitled as Billy and the Minpins. He was working on a few books before he died, and several were published just after his death, including The Vicar of Nibbleswicke, Roald Dahl’s Guide to Railway Safety and My Year.
Above: Roald Dahl's first and last books, The Gremlins and Billy and the Minpins.
Roald died of a rare type of cancer (myelodysplastic syndrome) on 23 November 1990 in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.