Six fantastic facts about author Roald Dahl

  • 18 July 2016
Photo of Roald Dahl in his hut in 1990 Image copyright Other
Image caption This photo shows Roald Dahl writing in his hut around 1990 - the year he died. The hut hasn't been touched since.

This year marks 100 years since famous author Roald Dahl was born.

He wrote more than 20 children's books, including The Twits, Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Many of which have been turned into films, including the BFG, which comes out later this year.

So we decided to take a look back at the author's life and share some fantastic facts with you...

Image copyright Quentin Blake

He invented more than 500 new words and character names

Roald Dahl was incredibly creative and came up with more than 500 new words and character names.

Such as the Oompa-Loopmas and scrumdiddlyumptious from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and snozzcumbers and frobscottle from the BFG.

He called his language Gobblefunk, and loved to play around with words and invent new ones or meanings.

This year Oxford University Press even created the Roald Dahl Dictionary, which features almost 8,000 real and imaginary words which he loved to use.

Image copyright PA
Image caption This small little hut in Buckinghamshire is where Roald Dahl wrote many of his famous stories, including Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

He wrote most of his books in his garden shed

Roald Dahl spent around four hours every day writing stories from his garden shed!

He is said to have had a cosy old armchair and a specially designed writing board which would sit on his lap.

He would also only write his stories using a pencil and yellow paper.

Image copyright Roald Dahl Literary Estate

One of his most famous books almost had a different name

James and the Giant Peach, was almost called James and the Giant Cherry!

It was changed from a cherry to a peach because Dahl said a peach was: "prettier, bigger and squishier than a cherry."

His original idea would have been for the giant cherry to be slowly pushed along a stream by water boatmen.

However this was later changed to a giant peach which falls from the white cliffs of Dover.

Image copyright Roald Dahl Literary Estate

His books were inspired by the people and things around him

Many of the characters and stories created by Roald Dahl were inspired by the people and places around him.

For example Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was inspired by his childhood.

The chocolate maker Cadbury's used to taste-test their chocolate bars at Roald's school, and he used to dream that he would invent a new chocolate bar, and win praise from Mr Cadbury.

The foxes home in Fantastic Mr Fox was inspired by a huge tree which grew outside Roald Dahl's home in the village of Great Missenden, in England.

Roald even named one of the main characters in the BFG after his first grandchild, Sophie.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Roald Dahl and his wife Patricia in 1962.

Roald Dahl fought in WW2 and was a spy

Before he became an author, Roald Dahl was a pilot for the Royal Air Force.

During World War II he flew a Hawker Hurricane plane.

Roald also became a spy for MI6 when he was recruited by the Canadian spymaster William Stephenson.

Dahl used to send them facts and secret information, and worked alongside Ian Fleming, who later became the creator of James Bond.

Image copyright Gettty images
Image caption One of the Gremlins from the film inspired by Roald Dahl's book.

His first ever children's book was The Gremlins

In 1943 Roald wrote his first official story aimed at children.

It was called 'The Gremlins' and was inspired by his time as a pilot.

The story was about a bunch of naughty little creatures called Gremlins, who would cause all sorts of mechanical problems on aeroplanes.

It later become the inspiration behind the hugely popular film "Gremlins" which was produced by famous Director Steven Spielberg in 1984.

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