46 Roald Dahl Facts

Here are some facts about Roald Dahl, the famous British children’s author.

Roald Dahl – Writing and Book Facts

  • Roald Dahl wrote may of his books in a shed in his garden, sitting upon an old battered armchair. He balanced a specially designed writing board on his lap and wrote with an HB pencil on yellow legal pads.

  • He wrote everyday from 10 am to 12 noon and then from 4 pm to 6pm.
  • Dahl’s first book for children was The Gremlins, published in 1943.
  • Roald Dahl was writing a third Charlie Bucket (from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) story, Charlie Bucket and the White House, but he died before the book could be completed.
  • It has been said that Roald Dahl created more than 250 new words. Many of them appear in The BFG.
  • He used to record all of his story ideas in an old red exercise book.
  • He was friends with the American writer, Ernest Hemingway.
  • Roald Dahl wrote seventeen children’s stories, and he also produced many works for adults, as well as children’s poetry and film scripts. Click here to find out more about Roald Dahl’s books.
  • The first draft of the Magic Finger was titled The Almost Ducks, and James and the Giant Peach was going to be called James and the Giant Cherry.
  • Dahl often based his characters on people he had met in real life. For example, it is said that the grandmother in The Witches is inspired by his own mother, Sofie.
  • He wrote the screenplays for You Only Live Twice (the James Bond film) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
  • Some of his favourite authors were: Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackery.

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl’s Early Life

  1. Roald Dahl was born on 13th September 1916 in Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales.
  2. His parents were Norwegian.
  3. Roald Dahl was named after the famous Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen.
  4. When he was a child, Roald spoke Norwegian when he was at home with his parents and three sisters, Astri, Alfhild and Else.
  5. When Roald was only three, his father, Harald, died of pneumonia, and his sister Astri, died from appendicitis (she was 7).
  6. Roald went to The Cathedral School in Cardiff, Saint Peter’s (a boarding school) in Weston-super-Mare, and Repton School in Derbyshire.
  7. His teachers didn’t think he was very good at writing when he was at school, but Roald Dahl excelled at sport. He was a very good footballer and he enjoyed playing squash.
  8. He often carried a camera with him and he loved taking photographs.
  9. When he left school, Roald Dahl went on a hiking trip through Newfoundland, Canada.
  10. In 1934 he was employed by Shell Petroleum Company, working in Kenya and Tanzania.
  11. In 1939, Roald Dahl became a lieutenant in the King’s African Rifles (an East African regiment of the British Army). Later that year, he joined the Royal Air Force as a fighter pilot.
  12. He was badly injured in 1940 when he crash landed his Gloster Gladiator biplane in an Egyptian desert. He fractured his skull, broke his nose and passed out.
  13. In 1941, Roald Dahl experienced his first aerial combat situation during World War 2. He shot down a German plane in his Hawker Hurricane.
  14. He took part in the Battle of Athens during World War 2 on 20th April 1941.
  15. In late 1941, Dahl started to get headaches so severe that they made him lose consciousness. He was sent back to Britain.
  16. In 1942, he worked in Washington DC as an Assistant Air Attache (a diplomat).
  17. During the war he was recruited by the spymaster, William Stephenson. He provided MI6 with intelligence from Washington, working alongside Ian Fleming (the creator of James Bond) and several others.
  18. Dahl left the Royal Air Force in 1946.


Roald Dahl – After the Royal Air Force

  1. On 2nd July 1953, Roald Dahl married Patricai Neal, an American actress.
  2. They had five children, Olivia, Chantal, Theo, Ophelia and Lucy.
  3. Olivia died when she seven – she had measles encephalitis.
  4. Theo was hit by a taxicab in New York City and suffered severe injuries.  He developed hydrocephalus (‘water on the brain’).
  5. Patricia Neal, Roald Dahl’s wife, experienced three cerebral aneurysms. As a result, she lost the ability to talk and walk. Roald Dahl took control of her rehabilitation and Patricia was eventually able to talk and walk again.
  6. Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal got a divorce and in 1983, Roald Dahl married Felicity Crosland.
  7. Roald Dahl died on 23rd November 1990. He was 74 and was suffereing with myeldysplastic syndrome (a type of blood disease).
  8. He is buried in the cemetery of St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. He was buried with some of his favourite things, including: a power saw, HB pencils, chocolate, red wine and his snooker cues.


Other Facts About Roald Dahl

  1. Roald Dahl’s granddaughter is Sophie Dahl, the author and former model). The Sophie character in Dahl’s The BFG is named after her.
  2. The Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery was opened at the Buckinghamshire County Museum in 1996.
  3. Roald Dahl’s birthday, 13th Spetember, is celebrated every year in libraries and schools as Roald Dahl Day.
  4. Roald Dahl was about 6’6″ tall (200 cm).
  5. In 1971, a real Willy Wonka wrote to Roald Dahl. He was a postman.
  6. Roald Dahl could speak English, Norwegian and Swahili.
  7. Dahl really enjoyed eating milk chocolate.
  8. He enjoyed growing orchids, collecting art, drinking wine, playing snooker and racing greyhounds.

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