My Uncle Oswald
January 23, 2011 4:17 AM   Subscribe

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. posted by infini (13 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Lovely. Thanks for this.
posted by Splunge at 4:31 AM on January 23, 2011

In 1988 I had a job working out of a place that was rented from Roald Dahl and was next to his antique store. He was famously unpopular.
posted by unSane at 4:38 AM on January 23, 2011

Yeah, it's pretty well known that Dahl was not the easiest of people to get along with; misanthropy appears to have been one of his defining characteristics.

His children's fiction is full of awful adults to which terrible things usually happen. Which is probably why it appeals to children so much!
posted by pharm at 5:12 AM on January 23, 2011

I have always heard that he is an awful person to get along with. I can't help but think of the millions of children he has captured the hearts of with his work and forgive him for being an asshole in real life.

I remember hating to read but devouring every last one of his books as a child.
posted by Felex at 5:30 AM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh, the drunken pheasants!

I would like to fill the pockets of my great long coat
with brown birds snoozing away
and trudge home beside him
boots crunching the frosty mud

Finally reaching the fence bordering between safe and adventure
"A good night's work, eh?"
leans and lights the pipe that he has been treasuring

His kind eyes, mischief and love and
it's been so long since i felt
so safe
so happy
so cold

Let's get some cocoa
And don't tell your mother

It sounds like a very lovely little garden.
posted by bigbigdog at 8:20 AM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

His short stories for adults are really great has well.
posted by Dick Laurent is Dead at 8:27 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

This article offers some really good advice about writing. Thanks for posting!
posted by KokuRyu at 8:49 AM on January 23, 2011


"You never describe any horrors happening, you just say that they do happen."

(disappeared adjectives)
posted by clavdivs at 10:22 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Pig vs. Pig*

*sorry, I can't find the full text of "Pig" online anywhere.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:08 AM on January 23, 2011

"A small hut" would seem to be a fair description.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:41 AM on January 23, 2011

For some reason I get along pretty well with misanthropes. The enemy of my enemy is my friend and all, you know.

Interesting to see that he wrote only two hours a day. Cause having that orchard meant he was out haranguing the help the rest of the time. Or throwing apples at passerby.
posted by Xoebe at 12:51 PM on January 23, 2011

Cause having that orchard meant he was out haranguing the help the rest of the time. Or throwing apples at passerby.

Heh, except according to 'My Year', he mostly invited neighborhood children to pick as many as they like. Apparently they all declined, which led to what can only be described as the ne plus ultra of a diatribe on the laziness of Children These Days.

/Dahl pedantry
posted by kalimac at 1:30 PM on January 23, 2011

I have been in his writing hut. Felicity keeps it exactly as he left it. She's a very nice lady, and she gave me a lovely autographed book as well.

Dahl was a misanthrope, but I get a little annoyed with the "he hated little kids" stuff. The guy had some really awful tragedies happen in his life. Yeah, he was a grump. But he loved kids and he empathised with them. Even if you ignore his popular children's books, the Wade-Dahl-Till valve improved the lives of thousands of children.
posted by web-goddess at 4:05 PM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

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