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September 6, 2016

A Dahl-ightful Month with Roald Dahl --- Trivia and Fun Facts

Posted by Rebecca M

This September marks the 100th birthday of beloved author Roald Dahl. Dahl brought us masterpieces like CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, THE BFG and our favorite bookworm, MATILDA --- all while teaching us the importance of creativity and imagination. In celebration of Dahl, we'll be posting some gloriumptious blog posts every Tuesday of September to share with all of you Dahlphiles --- who are fluent in gobblefunk. To start, we're sharing some fun facts about Dahl and his most popular books.

Be sure to check back next week for another Dahl-ightful post and, in the meantime, click here to head over to Roald Dahl's official website, where you can learn about upcoming celebrations and events across the country. We're so excited to invite you all into the frothbuggling, whoopsy wiffling, and jumpsquiffling world of Roald Dahl!

1. How do you pronounce Roald?

Roo-all. The ‘d’ is silent.

2. Roald Dahl loved bananas mashed up with…olive oil!

Roald loved making a treat that he learned about from his own mother.  He would take a banana and mash it up with a few drops of olive oil. The olive oil heightens the flavor of the banana and turns it into a delicious syrupy paste. This wasn't his only unusal recipe --- he also put food coloring into milk!

3. Roald Dahl served in the Royal Air Force during WWII.

After tiurning down his mother's offer to pay for his education at Oxford or Cambridge, Dahl said, "I want to go straight from school to work for a company that will send me to wonderful faraway places like Africa or China." When he was first flying in Africa, Roald Dahl wrote to his mother telling her how lucky he felt to be flying --- a feat he accomplished after only seven hours and forty minutes of solo training. But Roald Dahl nearly lost his life when his plane crashed in the Libyan desert and burst into flames. He managed to drag himself out before the plane blew up and he sustained a fractured skull and temporary blindness.

4. Roald Dahl often acted out his characters for his children.

When his children were falling asleep, Roald Dahl would climb up the ladder and stand next to their windows. Then, he’d push a bamboo cane through and act as the BFG, the Big Friendly Giant. When he wasn't climbing thrpugh his children's windows, he often wrote messages from ‘fairies’ onto the grass using weed colouring.

5. Dinner guests of Roald Dahl always received an after-meal chocolate set.

After dinner, guests were offered a red plastic box made up of all Roald Dahl’s favorite candies: Twix, Kit Kats, Rolos, Smarties, Flakes, and Maltesers

In an essay for ROALD DAHL'S COOKBOOK, Roald Dahl wrote a history of the great chocolate bars, waxing lyrical about the "seven miraculous years" between 1930 and 1937 when the greatest chocolates --- including Mars, Kit Kat, Aero, Maltesers, Rolo and Smarties --- were invented.

6. Roald Dahl’s dog, Chopper, regularly enjoyed a tastier dinner than most of us do.

The beloved brown and white Jack Russell Terrier was fed oysters, caviar, Smarties and sometimes dog food. Chopper was the last dog that Roald Dahl owned and the pair even appeared on TV together. Once, Dahl ried to smuggle Chopper into hospital by pulling him up in a wicker basket with rope. Chopper lived to the ripe old age of 16.

7. Roald Dahl helped invent an important medical device.

In 1960, the carriage carrying Roald Dahl’s son, Theo (just four months old) was hit by a cab on the corner of a New York street and crushed against the side of a bus. Theo underwent several operations to drain fluid from his head. However, the valve used to drain the fluid kept blocking and clogging. With Theo's life at stake, Roald joined forces with Stanley Wade (a toymaker, who specialized in model aeroplane engines) and Kenneth Till (a pioneering pediatric neurosurgeon). Together, they created the Dahl-Wade-Till valve, which not only saved Theo's life, but also those of almost three thousand children affected by similar conditions worldwide.

8. Roald Dahl loved to mix potions.

Roald Dahl mixed amazing bedtime drinks for his children and called them “witches potions.” They contained ingredients such as canned peaches blended with milk and pink, blue or green food coloring.

9. Mushroom-picking was one of Roald Dahl’s hobbies in later life.

He loved to go out early in the morning with his dog Chopper for company, to gather mushrooms hidden in the local field.

10.  Roald Dahl’s writing was criticized by teachers as a child and as an adult.

When he was in school, Roald was considered a terrible writer by his teachers. One teacher described Roald as being “quite incapable of marshalling his thoughts on paper.” Later, when he wrote a story for his daughter Lucy to hand in as part of her English homework, the paper received a “C--you could do better.” On top of all that, he had very messy handwriting.

11.  Roald Dahl wrote five drafts of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.

According to Lucy Mangan, author of INSIDE CHARLIE'S CHOCOLATE FACTORY, Dahl wrote five drafts of his story, four of which survive. In previous versions, Oompa Loompas were called “Whipple-Scrumpets” and there were 12 children. Unfortunately, some were so nasty that he started getting rid of them. The missing characters are Tommy Troutbeck; Wilbur Rice; Miranda Mary Piker; Violet Glockenberry; Herpes Trout; Elvira Entwhistle; Tommy Troutbeck; Clarence Crump; Augustus Pottle.

12.  Roald Dahl's beloved character Matilda was not always so sweet.

Matilda was originally conceived as the wickedest child in the world, and it was her parents who were lovely. No Miss Honey. No Trunchbull. There was Miss Hayes instead, who loved horse betting.

13. Roald Dahl wrote in a "writing hut" separate from his house.

The objects inside Dahl's hut included spine shavings, a hurricane model plane, a metal hip bone, Roald’s actual hip bone, a metal foil ball and, of course, his trusty Dixon Ticonderoga 1388-2 5/10 yellow pencil, which he used to write his stories onto yellow legal paper from New York. He also kept a sleeping bag in the hut for when his legs got cold. He didn't want to leave his chair, so everything he needed was within reach.

14. Roald Dahl had many famous friends.

Most notably, Dahl met and befriended FDR, Hemingway, Lucien Freud and Walt Disney. Dahl and Hemingway even sparred in a boxing ring together, and Hemingway's literary guidance influenced Dahl's work. In addition to these famous friends, Dahl's first wife was an Academy Award-winning actress. Patricia Neal, to whom he was married for three decades, won an Academy Award for her role in the 1961 film Hud.

15. Roald Dahl had some fascinating favorites.

His favorite color was yellow, his favorite food was caviar, his favorite sound was the piano and his favorite smell was bacon frying.