5 Phizz-Whizzing Facts About Roald Dahl’s Books

September 13, 2017

Inspiring generations of children (and big kids too!), Roald Dahl’s imaginative and playful novels continue to be as relevant on bookshelves and in bedrooms around the world today as they were forty years ago.

Bringing to life whole other worlds – from the fascinating creatures living inside a giant piece of fruit in James and the Giant Peach to the mystical Dream Country in The BFG – Roald Dahl’s books are the epitome of creativity, fun, and humour.


But, did you know these five phizz-whizzing facts about the author’s books?

1. He Wrote Everything by Hand

We bet you have your own laptop, mobile or tablet – maybe even all three! This wasn’t the case for Roald Dahl, though! In true traditional writer style, the author stepped back from technology and actually penned all his novels by hand. He never actually learned how to type. Instead, he preferred the comfort of writing all his thoughts and stories in a classic red textbook, in pencil.

Dahl’s favourite writing spot was in a shed in his garden, which he lovingly referred to as his ‘writing hut’. His two most prolific works, Matilda and

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (among others), were written here as Dahl sat cosily in a battered old armchair. He’d dedicate around four hours every single day just to writing!

2. Many of His Characters Are Based on Real People

If you love reading Roald Dahl’s books you’ll know that his characters are all so cleverly crafted with unusual personalities, quirks and looks. From the grizzly Mr and Mrs Twit in The Twits, to the ferocious Miss Trunchball in

Matilda, to the eccentric Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and to the earnestly curious Matilda herself, Dahl’s characters have so much life breathed into them that you wouldn’t be mistaken into thinking they were based on actual real people!

In fact, people from Dahl’s life litter his works. One of the most influential people who makes their way into a story is his granddaughter, Sophie Dahl, who inspired Sophie in The BFG. Also, the grandmother in The Witches is said to be based on the author’s own mother.

Perhaps more strangely, the tale of Fantastic Mr Fox is believed to be loosely inspired by a tree that grew just outside of Dahl’s home in Great Missenden. Some of the scenes in the book actually take place in parts of his home village too, such as the local pub, The Nag’s Head.

3. His Love of Chocolate Inspired One of His Greatest Stories

It’s no secret that Roald Dahl was a big lover of chocolate! But, what you might not know is that as a child at the famous Repton public school, Dahl and his classmates actually became testers for Cadbury, with the brand sending their latest chocolate creations to the students – a dream come true for any child! Dahl wrote:

“It was then I realised that inside this great Cadbury’s chocolate factory there must be an inventing room, a secret place where fully grown men and women in white overalls spent all their time playing around with sticking boiling messes, sugar and chocs, and mixing them up and trying to invent something new and fantastic!”

Mixing together his deliciously chocolately past and his writing prowess, Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was created!

4. He Invented Hundreds of Words

Do you know what zozimus means? Or how about guogwinkle?

Part of the fun of Roald Dahl’s books is the weird and wacky words the author invented. Oxford University Press actually created a Roald Dahl Dictionary dedicated to the author to tie in with the 100th anniversary of his birth in 2016. It’s compiled of more than 500 gloriumptious words and names conjured up by Dahl. There are also some 7,000 other (real) words that the author regularly used.

5. His Books Have Been Adapted Multiple Times

You’re likely to have watched at least one Roald Dahl film! Out of his seventeen children’s books, many of the author’s novels have been transported to the big screen in film and television adaptations.

The question is: which is your favourite? From the lovable 1996 version of Matilda with Pam Ferris playing the formidable Miss Trunchbull, to Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp’s performances as Willy Wonka in the 1971 and 2005 films, to the ever-whimsical 2009 stop-motion animation of Fantastic Mr Fox by director Wes Anderson, there are plenty of stunning movies that truly bring the author’s creations to life!

And, who could forget James and the Giant Peach? Right here at Oakwood, you can relive the magic of the book and join together with the likes of James, the Old Green Grasshopper, The Lady-bug and Miss Spider, against the cruel Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker, by heading to our Dahland attraction!

Wander through the giant peach and hop aboard one of our grasshopper trains on our Flight of the Giant Peach ride, and prepare to be lifted into the sky! Don’t forget – book your tickets online to make the most of our seasonal discounts.

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