Five Fascinating Facts about Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was born on this day in 1916, so we’ve taken the opportunity to raise a glass of burgundy (apparently one of Dahl’s favourite drinks – see below) to the man who gave us Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryThe TwitsMatilda, The BFG, and so many more classic books. Here are five of our favourite interesting Roald Dahl facts.

1. Roald Dahl didn’t do particularly well at school. One of his teachers wrote in his school report: ‘I have never met anybody who so persistently writes words meaning the exact opposite of what is intended.’ While he was at school, Dahl undertook what has to be one of the schoolchild’s dream jobs: he was an occasional taste-tester for Cadbury’s chocolate. This surely played a part in his later creation of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Dahl12. In 1971, a real Willy Wonka wrote to Roald Dahl. This is our favourite Roald Dahl fact relating to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This real-life Willy Wonka was a postman from Nebraska, and was probably inspired to write to the author by the release of the film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s well known that Dahl hated Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, partly because of the change in title – Dahl thought that Charlie, and not the eccentric Wonka, was the real protagonist of the story. Dahl planned to write a third Charlie Bucket book, Charlie in the White House; but in 1990 he died before he could complete it.

3. Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach was originally going to be ‘James and the Giant Cherry’. There are other noteworthy working titles/character names which were later changed. In early drafts of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka was called ‘Mr Ritchie’. The original title of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was ‘Charlie’s Chocolate Boy’. And in early drafts of that book, the Oompa-Loompas were known as the ‘Whipple-Scrumpets’.

4. Roald Dahl’s book The Twits was triggered by his desire to ‘do something against beards’ – he had an acute dislike of them. Such beard-fear is known as pogonophobia. Dahl confided in an essay that he had always harboured ‘a fierce antipathy’ to beards, which he described as ‘hairy smoke-screens behind which to hide’.

5. Roald Dahl was buried with chocolate, red wine, HB pencils, a power saw, and his snooker cues. He wanted to be buried with some of his favourite things, which included some good-quality burgundy, some upmarket chocolate (Dahl took chocolate very seriously and even planned to write a ‘History of Chocolate’), and the pencils that had served him so well in his writing shed over the years.

If you enjoyed these Roald Dahl facts, check out our interesting facts about Dr Seuss.

Image: Portrait of Roald Dahl (author: Carl Van Vechten), public domain.


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  7. Thanks for sharing. I knew very little about him.
    Bon week-end

  8. This is a brilliant post – so fun to find out these things I never knew :-)

  9. Great Post…again!
    I’ve nominated you to do the #Liebster – please see my blog for further details.x x

  10. Don’t forget his fiction for adults too. I love the short stories in Tales of the Unexpected, especially ‘Man from the South’. Having said that, nothing will ever beat the moment in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory when Charlie finds the golden ticket. Sheer magic.

  11. It never ceases to amaze me how someone remembered chiefly for his contribution to children’s literature could also pen those deeply disturbing, down-right macabre (but thoroughly enjoyable) Tales of the Unexpected. Surely a creative (and twisted) brain.

  12. Well worth remembering such an amazing author – surely on the best children’s writers of all time.

  13. How interesting … I discovered Roald Dahl when I came to the USA and loved and read his books to my children who were born here. I will share these facts with them. I know they will appreciate them.

  14. What an interesting post. I taught James and the Giant Peach in student teaching. I had get my classroom management established especially with that class. I loved Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I never tire of watching it. The remake didn’t compare to it.

  15. Readers who google the author’s name and “stroke” will discover some more fascinating stuff.

  16. I remember getting to the end of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and wanting to know what happened next. Hadn’t realised he actually was working on a third book – a pity he didn’t get to finish it.

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  18. Reblogged this on Just Another Blog and commented:
    He’s one of the authors I intend on reading other works of. I only read one book of his, and that was in middle school. Interesting facts about him, especially the chocolate ones.

  19. I understand he didn’t like bearded people as well.

  20. Wonderful information. I did a blog on my encounter with Dahl. It’s called Note About a Notable, and ran on February this year. You might like to take a look.

  21. Reblogged this on Discovery and commented:
    September 13, 2014…. Willie Wonka and Matilda… staples in our home when my daughter was young. Now today, a new understanding. It is always fascinating to have a looking glass into the wonders of life and our stories. This struck my fancy and it might yours too.

  22. I have a soft place for World War Two verterans. I read his account as a pilot and fighter in WWII, but I can’t think of the name of the book. Happy birthday, sir!

  23. I didn’t know Roald Dahl had a phobia about beards and chose to use this dislike to write The Twits. So many great books from this author. One of my favourites is Danny the Champion of the World which I remember being read by a teacher to my class at primary school.

  24. I so love Roald Dahl and still remember the joy of reading all his books out loud to my children over the course of one long summer.
    Further to your first fact, you might enjoy this old blog post of mine.

  25. A phobia against beards, that is rich, what about goatees, lip hair, hairy women, and nasal hair. I noticed he had a widows peak. Got a real chuckle on this blog. Thanks.

  26. Roald Dahl is one of the authors that got me into books as a child. I love these facts especially he ‘took chocolate very seriously..’ don’t we all? haha

  27. Lol. I love the idea that he really wanted to ‘do something about beards’. :-)

  28. Reblogged this on Sleepy Book Dragon and commented:
    It’s Roald Dahl Day, celebrating the birth of the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and many, many more childhood favourites!

  29. I love that last point – it’s like a modern take on dark age royal burials.