Above: Roald Dahl photographed with Nannie Kuiper (author) and Joost Roelofsz (illustrator) at an awards ceremony in Utrecht, Netherlands, in October 1982. Dahl had just won the Zilveren Griffel (Silver Pencil) award for the Dutch translation of The Twits (Credit: Hans van Dijk / Anefo, via Wikimedia Commons).
21 – the number of children’s books that Dahl wrote, including books published posthumously (see the complete list of Roald Dahl books).
1,000,000 – the approximate number of Roald Dahl books sold worldwide each year.
Above: A fascinating interview with Roald Dahl broadcast on the BBC lunctime programme Pebble Mill at One in 1982, in which the author talks about his writing routine, his craft and the hut within which he writes.
What Was Roald Dahl’s First Book?
The first Roald Dahl book to be published was ‘The Gremlins’, in 1943. Released in the US by Random House, it was a book for children written for Walt Disney and intended to be a promotional device for an animated movie that was never made. Dahl was credited as ‘Flight Lieutenant Roald Dahl’.
50,000 – the initial US print run of The Gremlins (a further 30,000 were printed for the Australian market, however paper shortages during the Second World War meant reprinting was limited).
50 – the number of copies of The Gremlins that Dahl ordered for himself, to distribute as promotional material. Amongst the recipients were Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, and the British Ambassador to the US, Lord Halifax.
Above: A rare interview with Roald Dahl from 1990, in which he discusses how C S Forrester encouraged him to become a writer (contains strong language).
1978 – the year in which the first book illustrated by Quentin Blake was published (‘The Enormous Crocodile’).
2 – the number of screenplays that Dahl wrote (‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ and the James Bond film ‘You Only Live Twice’).
What Was Roald Dahl’s Last Book?
The last book Roald Dahl published before he died was Esio Trot. The year following his passing, 1991, two further completed works were published posthumously, The Minpins and The Vicar of Nibbleswicke. The latter of these appears to have been the last book he completed.
283 – the number of words that Roald Dahl invented in his writing, including scrumdiddlyumptious, chiddler, frobscottle, and swishwiffingly (see ‘Did You Know?’ below).
6 – the number of pencils that Roald would keep to hand in his writing hut, and which were always sharpened before he started writing.
Did You Know?
The words that Roald Dahl invented are collectively known as Gobblefunk, and they are mainly to be found in The BFG, along with a few references in other books (such as the ‘Oompa Loompa’ from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
16 March 2016 – the date on which a Roald Dahl book, ‘The Great Mouse Plot’, reached the number one spot in the official UK book chart for the first time (Nielsen BookScan Total Consumer Market report). The book, published on 03 March 2016, features a chapter from ‘Boy: Tales of Childhood’ and was sold as a £1 World Book Day title.