You know that his mind is responsible for a bookish young girl with a magically strong mind, a fox who builds an underground network more complicated than the tube to outwit his neighbouring farmers, a wizard of confectionery whose world defies the limits of reality and so many more characters who filled our childhood with dreams (and a few nightmares). But what do you know about Dahl, the grumpy old man? Read on to improve your novelist knowledge.
1. He was Norwegian
Well, sort of – he was born in Cardiff to Norwegian parents and was named after a Norwegian hero, the polar explorer Roald Amundsen.
2. He wrote regularly for Playboy
Ever read ‘The Last Act’ (about a rapist gynaecologist) or wifeswapping saga ‘Switch Bitch’? Us neither.
3. He wrote a James Bond film
‘Charlie’ director Sam Mendes is not the only link between Ian Fleming and Dahl: Dahl wrote the script to 1967’s Sean Connery outing ‘You Only Live Twice’.
4. He created the Child Catcher
In another Fleming crossover, Dahl wrote the screenplay for the Bond author’s book ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’, and invented one of the scariest-ever kids’ villains.
5. He hated ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’
Dahl thought the 1971 film put too much emphasis on Wonka (as opposed to Charlie), and blocked any more film versions being made in his lifetime.
6. He invented a special type of cerebral shunt
The Wade-Dahl-Till valve – which he co-invented in 1962, after his son was in a bad car crash – allows fluid to be drained from a child’s brain.
7. He always wrote in a shed
Dahl had a hut built in his garden at Great Missenden in Bucks, where he did all his writing. Nobody else was allowed in it.
Find out more about the new musical version of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, or read about London’s real Willy Wonkas.