Books

Roald Dahl Autobiography: shines a light on author, warts and all

A new autobiography presents a new side of the man behind Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Witches, that depicts him as quite the womaniser.

One of the most well-known authors of our time, Roald Dahl, saw a lot of success in his lifetime. With over 2 million copies of his books flying off the shelves a year,  and 50 + translations of his beloved books going to print in his lifetime alone.

A new autobiography by Matthew Dennison, Roald Dahl: Teller Of The Unexpected (Bloomsbury) reveals a side to the beloved author that we most of us are not familiar with. Casting light on his childhood, and early days at school, (numerous canings intensified his distaste for it), which led him to forgo higher education altogether and take a job at the Shell petroleum company in East Africa. Tasked with selling fuel to farmers ­ ­scattered across the region, Roald took to the life, learned to speak Swahili, and adopted the favorite pastime of drinking whisky on the veranda as the sunset.

roald dahl
Image: Daily Mail

Roald Dahl: Teller Of The Unexpected, covers a lot of ground, from his time as a pilot in WW2, and the subsequent crash, which led him to having reconstructive surgery on his face (in particular his now, which he jokingly says is modeled on Rudolph Valentino).

Perhaps in not such a great light, the author is revealed to be quite the womaniser,  with romantic dalliances with the likes of Elizabeth Arden and Clare Boothe Luce. Romance, Dahl says is ‘ridiculously easy, like manipulating puppets’.

It also transpires that he wasn’t  ‘husband material’ as the book delves into  Dahl’s affair with Felicity ‘Liccy’ Crosland, which spanned almost ten years, with Roald declaring lukewarm is no good. Hot is not good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be’.

The author was no stranger to losing loved ones, Dahl witnessed the death of his sister at a young age, and later on, in life, he lost his daughter Olivia, aged seven, in 1962.

dahl bio
Credit: Dymocks

But it is perhaps his storytelling that he should be best remembered for, and the many original characters and storylines that he gave to the world. Dahl did after all create the Gremlins!

Roald Dahl: Teller Of The Unexpected is out now via all good booksellers.