The Great Authorial Hookup Chart (larger image), or how to connect Bram Stoker to Arthur Miller in 12 connections, and from Oscar Wilde to Roald Dahl in 12 romances (or how to make distracted students pay attention to English and History), from Black Balloon Publishing's Airship Daily blog. [more inside]
As England was fighting for its life against the Nazis, the British government sent its most charming spies — including Roald Dahl, Ian Fleming, Noël Coward and David Ogilvy — to America to blackmail, bully and cajol the U.S. into the war effort. [They were part of a] British spy ring that operated in Washington, D.C., during World War II.
U.K. illustrator Kate Baylay creates gorgeous book illustrations, like these for The Olive Fairy Book. [more inside]
In everything good there is also something bad, and this was not only the theme Dahl took up in much of his work for both children and adults, but it was also true of him personally. By all accounts an arrogant and hateful man, Roald Dahl was an unfaithful husband, an arch misogynist, and an anti-Semite who openly sympathized with Adolf Hitler. Should his "macabre unpleasantness" diminish Dahl's status as one of the world's most beloved children's authors? Or was it that very darkness that gave his writing its unique and lasting appeal? [more inside]
"the oompa loompas did not have their blueberry driver's licenses... they were shorter than I was wide"
The Making of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Most quotes are from the "making of" documentary from 2001, now on YouTube in four pieces: 1, 2, 3, 4 (also see featurette). The cast reunited on Today show earlier this week. [via]
"I ought to warn you, if you haven't read any of my stories, that you may be a little disturbed by some of the things that happen."
Though Roald Dahl is better known in this day as the author of stories for children, he had a parallel career as the author of short stories with more adult, macabre sensibilities. Some of those stories became part of a short-run series to fill the slot of to not one but two ill-fated Jackie Gleason shows. But instead of another game show or talk show, CBS wanted something to pair with the Twilight Zone. That show was Way Out, though it didn't rate well and only ran for 14 episodes (and 5 episodes are on Archive.org). 18 years later, Dahl returned to TV with his sinister stories, but this time it was in the UK, where Tales of the Unexpected lasted 9 seasons, 112 episodes in total. You can view 23 or so episodes online, split into parts (YT Playlist). [more inside]
This interview, conducted by family friend Todd McCormack, took place in 1988, when Roald Dahl was 71. As Dahl himself said, “I have worked all my life in a small hut up in our orchard. It is a quiet private place and no one has been permitted to pry in there.” He not only let Todd McCormack inside the hut, but also have him a rare insight into how he worked, where his ideas came from, and how he shaped them into unforgettable stories. Roald Dahl passed away in 1990, two years after the interview. [more inside]
Patricia Neal has died, aged 84. She was best known for her Oscar winning performance in Hud in 1963, in which she co-starred with Paul Newman. [more inside]
From October 1972 to October 1973 a controversy over Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory simmered in the pages of The Horn Book. It began with an article, "McLuhan, Youth, and Literature", by Eleanor Cameron, author of the Mushroom Planet series for children and of The Green and Burning Tree: On the Writing and Enjoyment of Children's Books. Spread out over the October, December, and February issues, it tied the ideas of Marshall McLuhan (The Medium is the Massage) to the confection of Charlie, calling it "one of the most tasteless books ever written for children":
"The more I think about Charlie and the character of Willy Wonka and his factory, the more I am reminded of McLuhan’s coolness, the basic nature of his observations, and the kinds of things that excite him. Certainly there are several interesting parallels between the point of view of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and McLuhan’s 'theatrical view of experience as a production or stunt,' as well as his enthusiastic conviction that every ill of mankind can easily be solved by subservience to the senses."What followed was a knock-down, drag-out, letter-writing brouhaha, refereed by Horn Book editor Paul Heins, with librarians, parents, teachers, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Roald Dahl himself joining in, and it was one of the main causes of the book's revision that year. [more inside]
Roald Dahl (1916-1990) is probably best known as one of the principal architects of the 20th century children’s fairy tale, with such sly, savage and addictive masterpieces as The Enormous Crocodile, The Witches, The BFG, and personal favourite The Twits. [more inside]
Over 2000 classic short stories from American Literature as well as an option to sign up for a short story of the day rss feed. Among the authors on offer are Kate Chopin, Saki, O. Henry, Louisa May Alcott, Ambrose Bierce, H. P. Lovecraft, Jack London, James Joyce, Willa Cather, Guy de Maupassant, Charles Dickens, Herman Hesse, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franz Kafka, Honoré de Balzac, Edith Warton, P. G. Wodehouse, Virginia Woolf, Langston Hughes, Leo Tolstoy, Aldous Huxley, Roald Dahl, Henry James, Katherine Mansfield and I could keep going for a while. The point is, there's over 2000 short stories in there.
The writing isn't the only great thing about Roald Dahl's books. There's also his fantastic illustrator, the perfectly-matched Quentin Blake. He's best known for illustrating such Dahl books as Matilda, The BFG, and The Witches. A comprehensive bibliography can be found here, his books in print can be ordered here, and, if you can afford it, buy some prints.