Roald Dahl was born at 32 Fairwater Road, Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales in 1916, to Norwegian parents, Harald Dahl and Sophie Magdalene Dahl. Dahl's family moved from Norway and settled in Cardiff in the 1880s


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Roald Dahl was born at 32 Fairwater Road, Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales in 1916, to Norwegian parents, Harald Dahl and Sophie Magdalene Dahl. Dahl's family moved from Norway and settled in Cardiff in the 1880s. Roald was named after the polar explorer Roald Amundsen, a national hero in Norway at the time. He spoke Norwegian at home with his parents and sisters. Dahl and his sisters were christened at the Norwegian sailors' church in Cardiff, where their parents worshipped.

In 1920, when Roald was three, his seven-year-old sister, Astri, died from appendicitis. About a month later, his father died of pneumonia at the age of 57. Dahl's mother, however, decided not to return to Norway to live with her relatives but to remain in the UK, since it had been her husband's wish to have their children educated in British schools. He was very tall, reaching 6'6" (1.98m) in adult life, and he was good at sports, being made captain of the school Fives and Squash team, and also playing for the football team. This helped his popularity. He developed an interest in photography. During his years there, Cadbury, a chocolate company, would occasionally send boxes of new chocolates to the school to be tested by the pupils. Dahl himself apparently used to dream of inventing a new chocolate bar that would win the praise of Mr. Cadbury himself, and this proved the inspiration for him to write his third book for children, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

FACT Roald first attended Llandaff Cathedral School. At the age of eight, he and four of his friends were caned by the headmaster after putting a dead mouse in a jar of sweets at the local sweet shop, which was owned by a "mean and loathsome" old woman called Mrs. Pratchett. This was known amongst the five boys as the "Great Mouse Plot of 1923".


Throughout his childhood and adolescent years, he spent his summer holidays in his parents' native Norway, mostly enjoying the Fjords. His childhood is the subject of his autobiographical work, Boy: Tales of Childhood.
At eighteen, instead of entering university, Dahl joined an expedition to Newfoundland. Returning to England he took a job with Shell, working in London (1933-37) and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (1937-39). During World War II he served in the Royal Air Forces in Libya, Greece, and Syria. He was shot down in Libya, wounded in Syria, and then posted to Washington as an assistant air attaché to British Security (1942-43). In 1943 he was a wing commander and worked until 1945 for British Security Co-ordination in North America.

In the crash Dahl had fractured his skull, and said later: "You do get bits of magic from enormous bumps on the head." While he was recovering from his wounds, Dahl had strange dreams, which inspired his first short stories. Encouraged by C.S. Forester, Dahl wrote about his most exiting RAF adventures. The story, A Piece of Cake, was published by the Saturday Evening Post. It earned him $1,000 and propelled him into a career as a writer. Its title was inspired by a highly erroneous and sensationalized article about the crash that blinded him, which claimed he had been shot down instead of simply forced to land by low fuel.

Dahl's stories have unexpected endings and strange, menacing atmospheres. The principle of "fair play" works in unconventional but unavoidable ways. Uncle Oswald, a seducer from 'The Visitor', gets seduced. In 'Parson's Pleasure' an antique dealer tastes his own medicine and the Twits from THE TWITS (1980) use glue to catch birds and meet their own gluey ends.

In 'Lamb to the Slaughter' the evidence of a murder, a frozen leg of lamb, is eaten by officers who in vain search for the murder weapon. The story was inspired by a meeting with the writer Ian Fleming at a dinner party.


Roald Dahl helped to invent a special little valve that is used in surgery to drain fluid from the brain.

He had about eight big operations and lots of little ones, mainly on his back. He had bits of bone scraped off one of his vertebrae, which he kept in a small bottle on his desk.


By Mani Makkar


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