Birthplace: Llandaff, Wales
One of the most popular children's book authors of all time, Dahl began his career writing adult horror stories and magazine articles, including a Saturday Evening Post series about his experiences as a World War II Royal Air Force pilot.
Dahl's children's books, however, are lighthearted, often outrageous fare. His first, The Gremlins (1943), was based on a script commissioned by Walt Disney. While the first screenplay was scraped, the story was adapted for the big screen in 1984. His next children's book, James and the Giant Peach, didn't appear until 1961, and it established Dahl as a literary force. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) followed, as did the best-selling Fantastic Mr. Fox (1970), The Witches (1983), and Matilda (1990). He also wrote the scripts for the films You Only Live Twice (1967) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). His adult collections include Someone Like You (1953) and Kiss, Kiss (1959).
After graduating from secondary school, Dahl opted not to attend university and instead joined an exploring expedition to Newfoundland. From 1937 to 1939 he worked for Shell in Dar es Salaam and then enlisted with the RAF at the dawn of World War II. He survived a crash landing in Libya and went on to serve as a fighter pilot in Greece and Syria before taking an assignment in Washington as an assistant air attach. While in the U.S., he met the novelist C. S. Forester, who persuaded Dahl to write about his war stories. Thus began a singular literary career.Died: Oxford, England, 11/23/1990