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Celebrating Roald Dahl

Last year, in 2016, marked Roald Dahl’s centenary. It was exactly 100 years since the author’s birth in 1916. Dahl is best known for his funny and creative children’s books, including Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Despite today’s influx of new children’s writers, Dahl’s books remain a popular choice – and for a very good reason.

Dahl did not have the easiest of lives, which perhaps led to his skill in creating complex characters and insightful storylines. Born in 1916 in Llandaff, Wales, his early childhood was a traumatic one. When Dahl was three, both his sister and father died. In 1929, he attended the boarding school called Repton in Derbyshire where he stayed until he was 18 years old.

Dahl was not a writer right from the start. In fact, after leaving school, he started working for Shell Oil in 1934. This job allowed him to travel and he had many eye-opening adventures in Africa. However, the outbreak of World War Two in 1939 meant that men had to leave their jobs to fight for their country. Dahl enlisted in the RAF when he was 23 years old. This was a scary time for him and a dangerous job to hold. When he was in Libya, he was involved in a plane crash which he took six months to recover from.

But even after rejoining the RAF, Dahl was still suffering from the consequences of the crash, and was no longer able to fly. He was sent back to Britain in 1941, before being posted out to Washington to work for the British Embassy. He was lucky enough to meet a novelist, C S Forrester whilst he was in the US, a man who encouraged him to write about his experiences in Libya. This was Dahl’s first step on his writing journey, and his first paid article was published anonymously in the Saturday Evening Post.

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RAF (n) – Royal Air Force.
anonymously (adv) – secretly; without mentioning someone’s name or identity.

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