We all love Roald Dahl. He’s one of the most celebrated and prolific authors, and entertained both children and adults all over the world with his writing over the past century. Many of us are aware that 2016 was the centenary of his birth, but fewer know that there is an official day dedicated to celebrating him as an author!
When Is Roald Dahl Day?
Roald Dahl Day falls on September 13 each year and has been celebrated since 2006.
What Is Roald Dahl Day All About?
Roald Dahl Day is a day designated to celebrate the author and his works.
So Who Was Roald Dahl?
Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff, near Cardiff, in Wales on September 13, 1916. Born to Norwegian parents, he was named after the Norwegian polar explorer, Roald Amundsen, who had been the first man to reach the South Pole just four years earlier.
His early years were difficult as both his older sister, Astri, and his father died, so his mother decided to send him to boarding school first in Weston-super-Mare, then to Repton in Derbyshire, both in the UK. Upon finishing school, he followed his desire to travel, going first to Canada then East Africa while working for the Shell Oil Company. When World War II broke out when he was 23, he enlisted in the British Air Force, where he was nicknamed Lofty because at 6 foot 6 inches (200cm), he was very tall.
Roald Dahl: The Writer
Roald Dahl first began writing during the war while working at the British Embassy in Washington D.C., US. His first book was about his experiences as a World War II fighter pilot, but when he had a family of his own after the war – he had five children, Olivia, Chantal, Theo, Ophelia, and Lucy – he began writing children’s stories.
He also wrote the screenplays for the James Bond film, You Only Live Twice, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as fiction for adults too.
Roald Dahl’s Legacy
Roald Dahl died on November 23, 1990, shortly before the Minpins was published. He died from a rare cancer of the blood. His body is buried in the cemetery of St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire – the village where he lived most of his life.
In terms of legacy, Roald Dahl has left behind him a whole menagerie of characters, which are amongst the most recognized in the world, and he remains for many the world’s greatest storyteller. His books have been translated into 59 languages and it’s estimated that his worldwide sales have reached 200 million! What’s more, many of his stories have been made into films, stage plays and musicals.
He also leaves a passion for the English language and writing, which The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, Berkshire, UK, has been set up to celebrate. The museum houses the Writing Hut from the bottom of Roald Dahl’s garden and organizes workshops and storytelling sessions to inspire younger generations.
Last but not least, Roald Dahl invented over 250 new words to delight his young readers, including phizz-whizzing and sizzle-pan. Some of these have now been included in the standard Oxford dictionary, whilst the full complement appear in their very own dictionary, the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary.