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Children's author Roald Dahl wrote the kids' classics Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, among other famous works. He was married to actress Patricia Neal.
Roald Dahl - The Novels (2:28)
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A behind the scenes look at "Matilda the Musical" and how the creative team brought this classic story to life. Video courtesy of AKA NYC.
A look at the many novels of author Roald Dahl from the creative team behind "Matilda the Musical." Video courtesy of AKA NYC.
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He continued in this vein into the 1950s, producing the best-selling story collection Someone Like You in 1953, and Kiss, Kiss in 1959.
The same year that Someone Like You was published, Dahl married film actress Patricia Neal, who won an Academy Award for her role in Hud in 1961. The marriage lasted three decades and resulted in five children, one of whom tragically died in 1962.
Dahl told his children nightly bedtime stories that inspired his future career as a children's writer. These stories became the basis for some of his most popular kids' books, as his children proved an informative test audience. "Children are ... highly critical. And they lose interest so quickly," he asserted in his New York Times book review interview. " You have to keep things ticking along. And if you think a child is getting bored, you must think up something that jolts it back. Something that tickles. You have to know what children like."
After Neal suffered from multiple brain hemorrhages in the mid-1960s, Dahl stood by her through her long recovery. The couple would eventually divorce in 1983. Soon after, Dahl remarried to Felicity Ann Crosland, his partner until his death in 1990.
Dahl first established himself as a children’s writer in 1961, when he published the book James and the Giant Peach. The book met with wide critical and commercial acclaim. Three years later, Dahl published another big winner, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Both books were eventually made into popular movies. A film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was released as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 1971, and an originally titled remake of the film, starring Johnny Depp, was released in 2005. The movie version of James and the Giant Peach was released in 1996.
In addition to James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dahl's most popular kids' books include Fantastic Fox (1970), The Witches (1983) and Matilda (1988).
Despite their popularity, Dahl’s children’s books have been the subject of some controversy, as critics and parents have balked at their portrayal of children’s harsh revenge on adult wrongdoers. In his defense, Dahl claimed that children have a cruder sense of humor than adults, and that he was merely trying to appeal to his readers. Other critics have accused Dahl of portraying a racist stereotype with his Oompa-Loompa characters in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
After suffering an unspecified infection, on November 12, 1990, Roald Dahl was admitted to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England. He died there on November 23, 1990, at the age of 74. Over his decades-long writing career, Dahl composed 19 children’s books and nine short story collections. He also wrote several television and movie scripts.
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Nominated for 12 Tony Awards® including Best Musical, MATILDA THE MUSICAL is more than a show, it's a phenomenon. Based on the beloved novel by Roald Dahl, MATILDA is the story of an extraordinary girl who dares to take a stand and change her destiny.
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