10 Fun Facts for Roald Dahl Day

Oompa-Loompa Cos Play
Oompa-Loompa Cos Play

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird.

No–It’s a plane!

It’s a…skydiving Oompa-Loompa?

Parachuting Oompa-Loompas are part of the festivities to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Roald Dahl Day on Saturday, the 13th of September, 2014. The author’s birthday is celebrated annually in libraries and schools around the world.

The Oompa-Loompas will take to the skies over Cambridgeshire, England in a bid to raise funds for the Roald Dahl Museum. If free-falling from ten thousand feet isn’t your bar of chocolate, take a nice, safe, earthbound visit to www.roalddahl.com. What a wonderful children’s literature centre and resource!

Roald Dahl Museum & Storytelling Centre
Roald Dahl Museum & Storytelling Centre

Vanity Fair magazine will mark the anniversary of the children’s classic by presenting a lost chapter from an early draft of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Copies hit the newsstands on the 11th and 12th of September.

As for Spilling Ink, we’re commemorating the man and the book with a few fun factoids!

Ten Things You May Not Know About Roald Dahl

  1. Ever wondered about the name? Not Ronald but Roald (pronounced RO-ald). It’s a Nordic name meaning “mighty”…
  2. …which suits a 6-foot-6 man born to Norwegian parents.
  3. Speaking of ancestry, he spoke Norwegian and Swahili in addition to English.
  4. His linguistic prowess may have contributed to his creativity with language. One researcher claims he coined over 250 original words, most of which turned up in his children’s book The BFG.
  5. The character Sophie in The BFG was named after Dahl’s granddaughter, a writer and former fashion model.
  6. He maintained a firm writing routine, doing most of his work in a garden hut. He sat in a battered armchair with a board for a desk (see photo below). He preferred to work in HB pencil on yellow paper.
  7. He kept a beat-up red exercise book especially for ideas. I remember reading years ago that he thought of these entries as “seeds” of stories.
  8. Remember the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? He wrote the screenplay. Also to his credit is the James Bond film You Only Live Twice.
  9. In its original conception, James and the Giant Peach involved a giant cherry.
  10. He once received a letter from a real-life Willy Wonka, an ordinary postman not an eccentric chocolate maker.

There you have it: A legendary children’s writer remembered for a timeless classic.

Mouth-Watering/Tummy-Unsettling Scenes

Not everyone loved Roald Dahl’s books. Some contemporaneous critics found his works distasteful, racist, and OTT (Don’t shout me down. It’s all on the Wikipedia page.) I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a ten-year-old and loved the naughtiness. Unlike the uptight critics, I got it that it was tongue-in-cheek. Personally, I found the book far more light-hearted than the 1971 movie adaptation Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder. (What was with that??)

The scene that stuck with me was the gold ticket holders’ entry to the Chocolate Room, where everything was edible–and scrumdidilyumptious. My mouth-watering imagining of that scene beat the (1971 cheesy, *ahem*) movie set hands down.

What about you? What was your favourite scene from the book? Which screen adaptation did you prefer, 1971 or 2005 (with Johnny Depp as WW)? Leave a comment!

Roald Dahl’s Writing Chair


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19 responses to “10 Fun Facts for Roald Dahl Day”

  1. Roald Dahl isn’t really one of my favourite authors, because the endings of his books, that I have read, aren’t too good. (Don’t hurt me!!!)Also, my favourite Roald Dahl book is Matilda – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s too short for me, and I know the story too well 😛
    I also like George’s Marvellous Medicine, but I don’t like the ending, cos it made me feel sad that George couldn’t redo the medicine 😦
    Roald Dahl has great beginnings in his stories, but the endings feel a bit slowed-down to me, a bit dull. But then I’ve only read Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and George’s Marvellous Medicine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi HP Fanatic, Thanks for the comments (and the help! Noted and corrected.) I haven’t read George’s Marvellous Medicine; like you, I love Matilda. I might borrow it from the library! I liked James and the Giant Peach a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You could always borrow Matilda from me…the movie’s also pretty good!
        I prefer 90’s movies, then these modern “family” movies…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Ali,
    Thanks for celebrating Roald Dahl here.
    I love his imaginative novels and how they translate so well onto the screen.
    My favourites are Matilda, The BFG, The Witches, Revolting Tales … and Charlie of course… Karen 🙂 PS I didn’t know he wrote screen plays


    1. Karen, what does the “19” mean in ur username?


      1. Maybe there are 18 other Karens who write… 😉


    2. Revolting Rhymes! I forgot about those. I LOVED reading them to my girls when they were little. So cheeky! Thanks for commenting.


  3. I love Roald Dahl, particularly his short stories. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and other stories from that collection had a massive impact on me when read aloud by one of my primary school teachers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love hearing that, June! Teachers may not always realise that simply reading a story could have such a big impact. Thanks for commenting.


      1. I especially remember stories that were read brilliantly aloud to us. I want to a small school for 4 years, of ten pupils it was very interesting.


      2. I bet! All different ages, I imagine. What a wonderful upbringing!


      3. Yes, and cultures, with lots of art and nature excursions, didn’t realise how special it was at the time.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Renaissance Renee Avatar
    Renaissance Renee

    My kids were terrified when I took them to a screening of Roald Dahl’s “Witches” many years ago. They’ve never forgotten it…but that did not stop us from enjoying all his other stories.
    I’ve just read again a collection of his short stories. Many of them draw from his experiences as a war pilot. They really bring home the horror and the aftermath that was not spoken about by so many.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve made me want to read the short stories, Renee. I’ve read one. Its title had something to do with a machine that churned out stories, but I don’t remember any war memoirs. I’ll look it up! Thanks for the tip.


  5. (Harry Potter is better)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are just lying yo yourself. ( Star Wars is the best)


      1. (to)


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