James and the Giant Peach. The Witches. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
One man was responsible for those tales and many more that we devoured during our childhoods (and after): Roald Dahl.
Although he passed away nearly 30 years ago, Dahl remains a literary giant that kids and adult still read on a regular basis. Here are 7 facts about the great author.
1. Writing was not his best subject in school
A teacher once said about Dahl, “I have never met anybody who so persistently writes words meaning the exact opposite of what is intended.”
2. He served in World War II
Dahl was a fighter pilot with the Royal Air Force. He crashed his plane in Libya during the war, and the experience inspired him to start writing.
3. He got into some spy games
Dahl supplied intelligence to an MI6 agency called the British Security Coordination along with fellow officers Ian Fleming and David Ogilvy.
4. His first published piece was a bit of an accident
Dahl was assigned to Washington, D.C. to work as an assistant air attaché. Author C.S. Forester interviewed Dahl about his experiences in the war. Dahl wrote some notes about his time during the war, and Forester was so impressed he didn’t change a word. The Saturday Evening Post published the article on August 1, 1942. Dahl was paid $1,000 for the story.
5. Dahl’s first children’s book was inspired by his time in the military
Dahl’s book The Gremlins was published in 1942 and was about a bunch of mischievous creatures who mess with the Royal Air Force’s planes. The rights for the story were purchased by Disney, but it was never made into a film.
6. Quentin Tarantino adapted his work
Dahl’s short story “Man from the South” has been adapted for the screen three times: twice for Alfred Hitchcock Presents (in 1960 and 1985) and by Tarantino for the segment he directed for the film Four Rooms in 1995.
7. He wrote a lot of stories for adults
Dahl is best known for his children’s books, but he also wrote for Harper’s, The New Yorker, and even Playboy. He also wrote about dark subjects including wife-swapping, promiscuity, suicide, and adultery. Who knew?