The Complete Short Stories of Roald Dahl in the first of two unsettling and sinister volumes.
“They are brutal, these stories, and yet you finish reading each one with a smile, or maybe even a hollow laugh, certainly a shiver of gratification, because the conclusion always seems so right”. (Charlie Higson, from his introduction).
Roald Dahl is one of the most popular writers of the modern age, effortlessly writing for children and adults alike. In this, the first of two volumes chronologically collecting all his published adult short stories, we see how Dahl began by using his experiences in the war to write fiction but quickly turned to his powerful and dark imagination to pen some of the most unsettling and disquieting tales ever written. In 27 stories, written between 1944 and 1953, we encounter such classic tales as ‘Man from the South’, featuring a wager with appalling consequences; ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’, in which a wife murders her husband yet has a novel idea for throwing the police off the scent; and in ‘The Sound Machine’, the horrific truth about plants is revealed. Enter the sinister, twisted world of Roald Dahl: whether you’re young or old, you’ll never want to leave.
“Roald Dahl is one of the few writers I know whose work can accurately be described as addictive”. (Irish Times).
“The great magician”. (Spectator).
Look out for Volume Two, introduced by Anthony Horowitz Roald Dahl, the brilliant and worldwide acclaimed author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and many more classics for children, also wrote scores of short stories for adults. These delightfully disturbing tales have often been filmed and were most recently the inspiration for the West End play, Roald Dahl’s Twisted Tales by Jeremy Dyson. Roald Dahl’s stories continue to make readers shiver today.
When he was at school Roald Dahl received terrible reports for his writing - with one teacher actually writing in his report, 'I have never met a boy who so persistently writes the exact opposite of what he means. He seems incapable of marshalling his thoughts on paper!'
After finishing school Roald Dahl, in search of adventure, travelled to East Africa to work for a company called Shell. In Africa he learnt to speak Swahili, drove from diamond mines to gold mines, and survived a bout of malaria where his temperature reached 105.5 degrees (that's very high!).
With the outbreak of the Second World War Roald Dahl joined the RAF. But being nearly two metres tall he found himself squashed into his fighter plane, knees around his ears and head jutting forward. Tragically of the 20 men in his squadron, Roald Dahl was one of only three to survive. Roald wrote about these experiences in his books Boy and Going Solo.
Later in the war Roald Dahl was sent to America. It was there that he met famous author C.S. Forester (author of the Captain Hornblower series) who asked the young pilot to write down his war experiences for a story he was writing. Forester was amazed by the result, telling Roald 'I'm bowled over. Your piece is marvellous. It is the work of a gifted writer. I didn't touch a word of it.' (an opinion which would have been news to Roald's early teachers!). Forester sent Roald Dahl's work straight to the Saturday Evening Post. Roald Dahl's growing success as an author led him to meet many famous people including Walt Disney, Franklin Roosevelt, and the movie star Patricia Neal. Patricia and Roald were married only one year after they met!
The couple bought a house in Great Missenden called Gipsy House. It was here that Roald Dahl began to tell his five children made-up bedtime stories and from those that he began to consider writing stories for children.
An old wooden shed in the back garden, with a wingbacked armchair, a sleeping bag to keep out the cold, an old suitcase to prop his feet on and always, always six yellow pencils at his hand, was where Roald created the worlds of The BFG, The Witches, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and many, many more.