Roald Dahl hut campaign launched

The hut was built in the 1950s

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Roald Dahl's family has launched a campaign to save the hut in which the late author wrote many of his best-loved stories.

The small structure, which was built in the 1950s at the bottom of the Dahls' garden in Buckinghamshire, remains as he left it when he died in 1990.

But his family say it is in imminent danger of falling apart due to decay.

They hope to raise £500,000 to move it, piece by piece, to the Roald Dahl Museum, where it will be preserved.

Roald Dahl Dahl worked alone in the hut, and always wrote on a yellow legal pad using HB pencils

Enduring classics like Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and The Twits were written in the hut, which Dahl described as his "little nest".

Since his death it has only been visited by friends, family and visitors to his home.

The writing room contains a wealth of items Dahl loved to have around him while he worked, including a huge ball made from foil sweet wrappers, a favourite wing-backed chair, and lined yellow legal pads shipped from the US.

Unusually, it contained no writing desk - the author would balance a writing board on his knees, supported by a roll of corrugated cardboard, while he scratched out novels in HB pencil.

He sat upon an old armchair, previously owned by his mother. It had been adapted to support his back, which was often in pain due to a World War II injury.

While writing, he rested his legs on a battered suitcase, covering them with a sleeping bag when they got cold

'Terribly important'

Analysis

Entering the hut is like stepping back in time.

It's not been touched since Roald Dahl died in 1990. His cigarette butts lie in an ashtray. Faded photographs, curling at the edges, are pinned to the walls with rusting paper clips. It is dark and dusty.

But the wing-back chair, wooden writing board board and piles of pads and pencils, leave you in no doubt that this unprepossessing place was where magical stories were created.

The brick and polystyrene shed, which Dahl was inspired to build after visiting Dylan Thomas's writing shed at Laugharne, has now fallen into a state of disrepair.

"At the moment nobody can go inside," Dahl's widow Felicity told the BBC.

"Can you imagine the millions that want to? It's terribly important to share that with everybody for many, many generations to come."

It is hoped the structure will be transferred to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre by March next year.

The idea came from the author's grandson, Luke Kelly, who was inspired by the relocation of artist Francis Bacon's studio to the Hugh Lane gallery in Dublin.

Dahl's granddaughter, Sophie, said the family wanted to share the writer's "palpable magic and limitless imagination" with visitors.

A further £500,000 will be needed by the museum to create an interactive exhibit to set the hut in context for visitors.

Criticism

However, the campaign has sparked criticism from some people, who say Dahl's family should use their own wealth to fund the project.

The Telegraph's Andrew Brown said: "There's nothing wrong with venerating the shrine of a writer, if that's what you want to do. But the people who will ultimately benefit most, the Dahl family, should surely foot the bill."

Roald Dahl's possessions in his hut The hut contains a wealth of items Dahl loved to have around him while he wrote

Members of the public also took to Twitter to voice their opinions, with one user saying: "I love Roald Dahl, but.. half a million quid to relocate a shed? Really? And the continuing royalties won't cover that anyway?"

Another wrote: "Surely Roald Dahl's family have a spare £500K to pay to save the hut he wrote the books in... Love him and all but WE have to pay?"

Amelia Foster, from the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, said the family had already made "a very significant financial contribution" to the project.

"It does seem like a lot of money," Ms Foster told the BBC.

"But we're not just moving it, we're conserving it - so that is, of necessity, an expensive business.

"We want to make sure that Roald Dahl fans in the future are able to see the hut, and to do that we really need to put the work and the time in now."

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