I love learning more and more about Roald Dahl these past two months. And it’s beautiful that we are able to present bits and pieces from his life every other Wednesday. I just find his humor to be refreshingly and unflinchingly candid – it’s a breath of fresh air.
Much of what I’d be sharing is coming from Wendy Cooling’s compilation about Dahl’s life. I haven’t finished the entire book yet, but some of the pages that I’ve read have been pretty absorbing.
Being a ‘rock star’ in children’s literature means receiving sacks and sacks of mail from thousands of fans from all over. It is a testament to Dahl’s generosity that he would do his best to respond to as many as 4,000 letters a week (with the help of course of his ever-dependable secretary).
Partnership with Quentin Blake
It was in the late 70s when Dahl’s editor recommended Quentin Blake as a possible illustrator for his books – and Dahl’s legacy is forever changed with the stroke of Quentin Blake’s pen. Wendy Cooling shared that the two became the best of friends when they started working on The Big Friendly Giant. They are also described to be an unlikely pair with Roald being tall and chatty whereas Quentin is described to be “small and quiet” yet as Wendy noted “they got on like a house on fire.” The mutual respect is likewise very evident in the way that they work with each other. At one point, Dahl even stated that:
It is Quent’s pictures rather than my own written descriptions that have brought to life such characters as The BFG, Miss Trunchbull, Mr Twit and The Grand High Witch. – Roald Dahl, as cited by Wendy Cooling, p. 13
Collection of Clippings
I find it extremely interesting that Dahl collected clippings of pictures of mouths and eyes from newspapers and magazines – this was part of his creative process and allowed him to draw inspiration for new characters for his books. I think that this is a valuable practice that young authors could also learn from.
It should come as no surprise that the creator of the famous Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a chocolate addict himself. In fact, when he was younger Roald Dahl and his school friends were asked by Cadbury to taste-test their newly-invented chocolate bars. How’s that for sweet?
Jama from Jama’s Alphabet Soup has also done several posts about Roald Dahl in celebration of his Birthday Month (September). Check out some of her posts:
- Jama and the (not so giant) peach pie
- Pishlets for Roald Dahl’s Birthday
- Big Friendly Grub or The Great Pea Soup Adventure
We’d love to know what you know about Dahl. If you know of any random trivia and tidbit about him, we’d love to hear from you.