children’s book author roald dahl and his daughter, lucy
What If Willy Wonka Was Your Dad?
Roald Dahl’s Magical Parenting With Food
“food was a huge part of our upbringing,” lucy dahl says. her father delighted his children with fanciful “midnight feasts” in the woods and often used mealtime to test out new characters from stories he was working on.
three-course dinner chewing gum.
fizzy lifting drinks.
these, of course, are the creations of willy wonka, who himself is the creation of author roald dahl. food is a huge part of his work, and as it turns out, dahl’s creative and sometimes twisted approach to food wasn’t confined to his books.
“food was a huge part of our upbringing,” says dahl’s daughter lucy.
tn this week’s episode of the sporkful podcast, ahead of father’s day, lucy shares stories of the witch’s potions that accompanied bedtime, the cabbage her father said came straight from the queen’s garden, and being woken up in the middle of the night to eat chocolate.
“everything about our childhood was eccentric,” she says, “although we didn’t realize it at the time because it was just normal to us.” lucy dahl is 51 now, but she still bursts with childlike glee when she recalls her father’s “midnight feasts.”
he’d wake the kids up in the middle of the night and pile them into the car – which was full of hot chocolate and cookies – and drive them up the road in the english countryside where they lived.
then they’d walk in to the woods in their pajamas to look for badgers.
“you couldn’t talk, and he’d say, ‘nobody move! and if you’ve got an itch, blow on it. try and hold your breath, try not to breathe!’ ” lucy recalls. “and sure enough, mr. badger would come prowling out and walk right past us. it was incredibly exciting.”only once they had seen an animal could they tuck in to their sweet feast.”and then,” lucy says, “we’d all go home, back to bed, delighted.”
roald dahl kept his kids entertained during normal eating hours, too. he often used mealtime to test out new characters from stories he was working on.”the minpins lived in the woods beyond our house,” lucy remembers, referring to one of her father’s last books, about a tiny people who live inside trees. “the BFG – the big friendly giant – lived underneath our orchard. it all coincided with what we ate. for breakfast were minpins’ eggs and fried bread. but what they actually were were quail eggs.”
just as roald dahl used stories to bring food to life at home, he used food to bring characters to life in his books. willy wonka’s fizzy lifting drinks aren’t just a fun idea – they also tell us something about who he is. in fantastic mr. fox, the three mean farmers who are out to get mr. fox are described only by their body shapes and their diets.
so this father’s day, wake your kids up in the middle of the night, take them into the woods in their pajamas to look for badgers, load them full of chocolate, then put them back to bed.
“even though you’re growing up,
you should never stop having fun. “
– nina dobrev
credits: npr, the spoon, the sporkful, dan pashman, m.haircloth
They’ve both got big anniversaries this year:
2016 marks 100 years since Roald Dahl’s birth, and 400 years since Shakespeare’s death. That means 2016 is a pretty great year for celebrating the lives and works of these two world-famous writers.
They both made up some crackling words:
Shakespeare coined countless new words and phrases, many of which have found their way into common usage, including ‘wild goose chase’, ‘laughing stock’, and ‘heart of gold’. Roald Dahl invented quite a few words of his own, especially while writing The BFG – who can forget snozzcumber, gigglehouse and exunkly?
Both authors have their very own dictionaries, both published by Oxford University Press. The Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary and The Gobblefunk Dictionary (coming in June).
Can you tell which of the following 5 words are Roald Dahl words, and which 5 are Shakespeare words?
Babblement, Smilets, Bubukles, Crumpscoddle, Pulsidge,
Vizaments, Squizzled, Twangling, Bootboggler, Sossel.
(Answers at the bottom of the page!)
They both have links to the Royal Shakespeare Company:
Set up in 1875 the Royal Shakespeare Company was established to inspire a lifelong love of William Shakespeare and to produce new plays and productions. In 2010 the RSC’s production of Matilda the Musical based on Roald Dahl’s Matilda, premiered at The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, before moving to the West End in 2011. This record-breaking, award-winning musical is still going strong, made its way to Broadway in 2013 and toured Australia in 2015.
They are both loved worldwide:
Shakespeare is well and truly international. According to The British Council his works have been translated into over 100 languages (including Klingon), and performed worldwide – Romeo and Juliet has been performed in 24 countries in the last 10 years alone!
Roald Dahl books have been translated into 58 languages including Norwegian, Welsh and Japanese, but not Klingon… yet. During his lifetime Roald Dahl stuck a pin in a world map every time he received fan mail from a new place. Far flung destinations included Sao Paulo, Beijing, Addis Ababa and Windhoek.
Roald’s Fan Map
They are both top ten borrowed authors:
Both Roald Dahl and Shakespeare are very popular with library goers it would seem. The Public Lending Right lists Roald Dahl as the number 1 most borrowed classic author in 2015, with Shakespeare taking tenth place. Not bad!
They’re big on the big screen:
Many of Shakespeare’s plays have been made into movies. According to the BFI the first Shakespeare film was made in 1899. Since then there have been countless film versions and adaptations including William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996), West Side Story (1961), and 10 Things I Hate About You (1999).
There have been some great film adaptations of Roald Dahl’s books too, Including Matilda, Fantastic Mr Fox, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The BFG is coming to cinemas this July.
You can visit their home towns:
Two places you must definitely visit are The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire and Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Roald Dahl lived in the village of Great Missenden for 36 years and wrote all of his children’s books in his Writing Hut in the bottom of his garden. The Museum is housed in an old coaching inn on the High Street, you can’t miss it – look for the painted BFG on the front.
William Shakespeare lived in Henley Street in Stratford from the time of his birth until he was old enough to marry. Visitors can tread in his footsteps in the house he lived in, for millions of enthusiasts worldwide this house is a shrine.
Some of their stories are rooted in folklore:
Witches, magic, sprites and mysterious creatures appear in work by Roald Dahl and Shakespeare, and almost certainly rooted in folklore. Roald Dahl’s Norwegian heritage may have influenced his stories about jumbly giants and witches. His first story for children The Gremlins was inspired by RAF folklore which held that little creatures were responsible for the various mechanical failures on aeroplanes.
Shakespeare plays feature similar characters: Titania in Midsummer Night’s Dream, the sorcere Prospero, and the witches in Macbeth. Even Hamlet is borrowed from an old Scandinavian tale.
Roald Dahl = Babblement, Crumpscoddle, Squizzled, Bootboggler, Sossel.
William Shakespeare = Smilets, Bubukles, Pulsidge, Vizaments, Twangling.
credits: roald dahl museum