->''"I don't write horror stories, I write funny stories. I think they're funny, anyway."''

Roald Dahl was a Norwegian-British author (September 13, 1916 - November 23, 1990) most famous for his distinctively dark but often whimsical children's novels and poetry collections, though he started out as a writer of short stories for adults.

His style is exemplified by BlackComedy, and as a result even his juvenile stories contain a good deal of more-than-usually sophisticated NightmareFuel. The fact that said young target audience has been happily lapping all this up for decades now seems to imply that many kids actually ''like'' to be terrified (hey, it works for ''Series/DoctorWho'').

Trademarks include his [[AuthorAppeal love of nostalgia]] for his own childhood (with which he generally manages to avoid alienating his younger readers) and his great love of FoodPorn. Almost all of the {{happy ending}}s in his work revolve, in some way, around food... although many of them [[BittersweetEnding aren't exactly happy]]. He had less wonderful memories about the [[BoardingSchoolOfHorrors headmasters at his school terrorizing, humiliating and caning pupils]] as was common in those days, as mentioned in his autobiographical novel ''Boy''. His not-unreasonable conclusion that all HumansAreBastards would inspire a lot of his later stories.

His works for adults are almost universally cynical and pessimistic about human nature; his works for children take the same attitude to a whole other level, featuring arrogant, wicked and/or just plain mean adults who menace innocent youngsters (or, in a couple of memorable cases, fuzzy little animals) more or less [[ForTheEvulz just because they can]]. Sometimes these are traditional boogeymen (e.g., The Grand High Witch in ''Literature/TheWitches'', the Giants in ''Literature/TheBFG''), but more often they're simply irredeemably vile grownups. Just how irredeemable is spelled out in exquisite detail on almost every page.

It would be a case of BeautyEqualsGoodness, except that most of his small heroes and heroines are themselves deliberately pretty average. They're also in large part {{Aesop}}-proof by virtue of their ''already''-innate goodness, intelligence, and/or resourcefulness. They generally succeed in foiling the bad guys simply by first recognizing and then rising above the relentless nastiness and/or or stupidity around them. If you're starting to suspect that there were very few grey areas in Dahl's POV, you're right.

Dahl himself grew up to have quite the exciting life. After graduation he went to fulfill his military service in Africa, where he became an AcePilot for the Royal Air Force during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII. C. S. Forester (author of the Horatio Hornblower series) asked Dahl to write down his account of his survival after a desert crash, with the understanding that Forester would edit it into a proper magazine article. Dahl did as asked -- and Forester refused to change a word. In fact, he encouraged Dahl to publish it under his own name. Thus began Dahl's career as a writer. Dahl was later assigned to cover the British ground forces in Greece, where his squadron fought valiantly against long odds and he was shot down. The second crash injured his back and left him with recurring headaches that eliminated him from flight duty.

Although Dahl's flying career was ended by the crash, his military service was not. He found himself assigned as Assistant Air Attache to the British Embassy in Washington DC. While there, his natural charm and ability with words and conversation got him a second, unofficial position with the British Security Co-Ordination, an office officially meant to [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin coordinate security i.e. counterespionage with the United States]], but actually a quasi-espionage organization in itself, giving the British Government an inside view of American political activity, tracking down and discrediting pro-Nazi individuals, groups, and businesses, and working to make sure the United States maintained its commitment to assisting the British in their war effort. Dahl's part in this was to hobnob with [[UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt the president]] and his wife, a young congressman named UsefulNotes/LyndonJohnson, and other notables, sometimes [[ReallyGetsAround with his penis]]. Yes, he was also very popular with the ladies, almost to the point of a real-life Franchise/JamesBond (and coincidentally, another intelligence officer he worked with on occasion was none other than Creator/IanFleming).

While in Hollywood during the war Dahl had also met Creator/WaltDisney and pitched him a story called ''Literature/TheGremlins'', about creatures who sabotage army airplanes. Disney was interested in making it into a cartoon, but after a lot of preparation the idea was eventually cancelled, much to Dahl's chagrin. It was however eventually published as his first novel.

In the 1950s Dahl finally earned lasting fame as a writer of suspenseful BlackComedy magazine short stories for adults, later collected into the book and TV series ''Literature/TalesOfTheUnexpected'', earning him the title of "Master of the Macabre" on both sides of the Atlantic. His short stories were also adapted to episodes of ''Series/AlfredHitchcockPresents''. In his increasingly rare spare time, he wrote the screenplays for the ''Film/JamesBond'' film ''Film/YouOnlyLiveTwice'' and ''Film/ChittyChittyBangBang'', both adaptations of books by his good friend Creator/IanFleming.

Dahl's eventual emergence as a full-time children's writer began in the early 1960s, after ''Literature/JamesAndTheGiantPeach'' and ''Literature/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory'' became a huge success. Other popular titles followed in quick succession, accelerating into the 1980s, when Dahl was well into his sixties/seventies: ''Literature/TheBFG'', ''Literature/TheWitches'', ''Literature/{{Matilda}}''. Dahl initially hired a different illustrator for each book that he wrote, until that task was secured for the remainder of his career in 1978 by master of loopy sketchiness, Quentin Blake, who would also provide his own illustrations for all of Dahl's books that were ''not'' initially illustrated by him, finishing with ''The Minpins'' in 2017. Almost all of his juvenile books have been made into movies the iconic ''Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'' more than once though he [[CreatorBacklash so disliked]] ''Film/WillyWonkaAndTheChocolateFactory'' that it was nearly 15 years before he allowed another of his books to be adapted (and he didn't like ''Literature/TheWitches'' much either). Curiously, no two of these movies were made by the same person. Particularly in the U.K., stage adaptations of his work are numerous as well; in TheNewTens, ''Theatre/{{Matilda}}'' and ''Theatre/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory'' have both become successful West End musicals.

Dahl's personal life was far less lucky, and considerably more complex. He was married for many years to Oscar-winning actress Patricia Neal. They had five children; Olivia, the oldest, died of measles at age 7. Dahl was [[TheCasanova an utterly shameless womaniser]], but when Neal suffered burst cerebral aneurysms and told that she would never walk or talk again Dahl wouldn't hear of it, and personally took control of her rehabilitation. Over the next few years he, for want of a better word, bullied her back to health.

Most controversially (and the obvious reason why he never received a knighthood or other official UK honours, other than an OBE which he turned down as he wanted his wife to be Lady Dahl), he made some rather...''interesting'' comments about Jews[[note]]Dahl himself maintained that he was not anti-Semitic, but anti-Zionist. He [[SomeOfMyBestFriendsAreX maintained friendships]] with a number of Jews, including philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin, who said, "I thought he might say anything. Could have been pro-Arab or pro-Jew. There was no consistent line. He was a man who followed whims, which meant he would blow up in one direction, so to speak." Amelia Foster, director of the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden, states, "This (referring to the offending quote below) is again an example of how Dahl refused to take anything seriously, even himself. He was very angry at the Israelis. He had a childish reaction to what was going on in Israel. Dahl wanted to provoke, as he always provoked at dinner. His publisher was a Jew, his agent was a Jew, and thought nothing but good things from them. He asked me to be its managing director, and I'm Jewish." Dahl also did acknowledge in ''Going Solo'' that Hitler's persecution of the Jews was terrible and that the Holocaust was a horrific genocide.[[/note]]:
-> ''There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity; maybe it's a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean there is always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn't just pick on them for no reason.''

!!Works with a page on this wiki:
* ''Literature/TheBFG''
* ''Literature/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory'' (and its sequel, ''Literature/CharlieAndTheGreatGlassElevator'')
* ''Literature/FantasticMrFox''
* ''Literature/DannyTheChampionOfTheWorld''
* ''Literature/GeorgesMarvelousMedicine''
* ''Literature/JamesAndTheGiantPeach''
* ''Literature/TheLandlady'' (a horror short-story)
* ''Literature/{{Matilda}}''
* ''Literature/MyUncleOswald'' (adults-only novel)
* ''Literature/SometimeNeverAFableForSupermen'', his most pessimistic work.
* ''Literature/TheTwits''
* ''Literature/TheWitches''
* ''Literature/EsioTrot''
* ''Literature/LambToTheSlaughter'' (a short story)
* ''Film/YouOnlyLiveTwice'' (script)
* ''Film/ChittyChittyBangBang'' (script)

!! Dahl's work provides examples of

* AdultsAreUseless[=/=]ChildrenAreInnocent: The children is Dahl's books were almost always virtuous and good while the adults only served to be either kind providers or monstrously abusive. Even the ill-behaved children in ''Literature/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory'' are the result of their parents being complete pushovers.
* BlackAndWhiteMorality: Dahl made no pretense over exactly who he believed were "good" and "bad" people. Even when his heroes were flawed, such as ''Literature/FantasticMrFox'', the villains would have no redeeming qualities at all.
* BlackComedy: His work is quite macabre and sadistic.
* BleachedUnderpants: In addition to his well-known children's books, HeAlsoDid plenty of material like ''Literature/MyUncleOswald'', which can only be described as NotSafeForWork.
* BloodierAndGorier: His poems ''Literature/RevoltingRhymes'' are re-tellings of classic fairy tales, but more true to the cruelty and goriness of the original tales, though with his own sense for BlackComedy and fantasy twisting the tales. Dahl had the belief that children can take horror in stories as long as they have comedy in them and that they are actually quite interested in this stories, as long as they are told well.
* BoardingSchoolOfHorrors and SadistTeacher: Dahl never forgot the strict and repressive rules at his old schools and describes being beaten in his autobiographical novel "Boy". One scene from this book was almost re-used line-by-line in his novel ''Literature/DannyTheChampionOfTheWorld'', with the appearance, behaviour and name of the teacher [[WritingAroundTrademarks almost literally the same]]. Another book about sadist teachers is ''Literature/{{Matilda}}'', where principal Mrs. Trunchbull leads an even more grotesque reign of terror.
* ChildHater: A frequent antagonist type in his stories-- Miss Trunchbull, the Grand High Witch, and Aunts Sponge and Spiker are some of the more notable ones. This theme is likely inspired by the real-life examples he observed in his brutal teachers and headmasters (and Mrs. Pratchett). He even [[CanonForeigner added two of them]] (Baroness Bomburst and the Child Catcher) into ''Film/ChittyChittyBangBang''! Of course, these child-haters are always countered by kind and caring adults who provide the necessary love for the victimized children.
* CoolAndUnusualPunishment: The methods characters use to punish, torture and/or act revenge on others are often quite crafty.
* CreatorThumbprint: He loved nostalgia for his childhood, and food. Almost all of his books revolve around food in some way, and most of the Happy Endings his heroes get are based on food in some way.
* DarkerAndEdgier: Compared to many children's stories, Dahl's books do have a dark edge to them. They often showcase BlackComedy and scenes that have worried parents and teachers because they fear they are too horrifying or sadistic for young readers. Yet Dahl has been popular with children for decades.
* DarwinistDesire: In ''Literature/MyUncleOswald'', Oswald collects the sperm of geniuses in order to sell it to women who want to have genius babies.
* EarlyBirdCameo: In ''Literature/DannyTheChampionOfTheWorld'' Danny's father tells a story about a giant who blows dreams into children's bed rooms when they are sleeping. This is a nod to one of Dahl's later stories ''Literature/TheBFG''.
* EatTheEvidence: In "Lamb to the Slaughter", a housewife murders her callous husband by hitting him with a leg of lamb, then cooks it and serves it ''to the police'' who investigate the death.
* FantasticFoxes: ''Literature/FantasticMrFox''.
* FlorenceNightingaleEffect: In the autobiographical ''Going Solo'', Roald Dahl recounts falling in love with a nurse who assisted him through a period of blindness after a plane crash in the North African desert during World War II. His infatuation ended once the bandages came off and he found that she was not quite as beautiful as he had imagined her to be.
* FoodPorn: Nobody could describe food, especially sweets, in such a tasty way that makes your mouth water when you read it as Dahl.
* FracturedFairyTale: ''Literature/RevoltingRhymes'', where he transforms ''Literature/LittleRedRidingHood'', ''Literature/TheThreeLittlePigs'', ''Literature/{{Goldilocks}}'', ''Literature/JackAndTheBeanstalk'', ''Literature/{{Cinderella}}'', ''Literature/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs''
** And ''Rhyme Stew'', where he sends up ''Literature/DickWhittington'', ''Disney/TheTortoiseAndTheHare'', ''Literature/TheEmperorsNewClothes'', ''Literature/AliBaba'', ''Literature/HanselAndGretel'' and ''Literature/{{Aladdin}}''.
* {{Gaslighting}}: ''Literature/TheTwits'' is all about this - the titular dysfunctional couple do it to each other to begin with (for example, adding a small segment to the bottom of a walking stick every day to make the wife think she's shrinking), and have it spectacularly turned on them at the end [[spoiler: (they're tricked into gluing themselves to the floor, and end up shrinking down into nothing in their efforts to get themselves unstuck).]]
* GenialGiraffe: The Giraffe in ''The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me'' is one of the protagonists, who uses his stretchy neck to help the animals in their window-cleaning business.
* GenreAnthology: ''Series/TalesOfTheUnexpected'', a 1979 ITV series, started out exclusively adapting his short fiction, although it later widened its scope to include other authors' works.
* GentleGiant: ''Literature/TheBFG'' is about a giant who calls himself the "Big Friendly Giant", because he is the only giant who doesn't eat children.
* GivingSomeoneThePointerFinger: His book ''The Magic Finger'' is about a girl who points people who had enraged her with her finger and converts the ponted person into an animal.
* GoodParents: With the prominent exception of ''Literature/{{Matilda}}'', all of his characters are shown to have very loving and supportive parents or guardians. Either these parents die before the story starts or cannot provide for their children, or the child eventually finds loving guardians to take care of them.
* GripingAboutGremlins: His 1943 book ''The Gremlins'' was the first book about these creatures, though the urban legend had been around for many years already.
* HarmfulToMinors: His works can be considered this by some, featuring very bleak situations that put children at the mercy of cruel and selfish adults as well as other violent or dark content (such as cannibalistic giants)--all aimed at kids (even if they usually escape this by the end). This is likely inspired by his own childhood, exposed to abusive violence at his school.
* HumansAreBastards: Dahl had a rather cynical way of portraying his villains. Characters like Mrs. Trunchbull, Matilda's parents (''Literature/{{Matilda}}''), the parents and children whom Charlie and his grandfather have to compete with (''Literature/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory''), Henry Sugar (''The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar''), James's aunts (''Literature/JamesAndTheGiantPeach''), Captain Lancaster (''Literature/DannyTheChampionOfTheWorld''), Mr. and Mrs. Twit (''Literature/TheTwits''), George's grandmother (''Literature/GeorgesMarvelousMedicine''), the giants (''Literature/TheBFG''), the witches (''Literature/TheWitches''), ... are all despicable buffoonish beings who love to torment other people. In contrast, the good characters are almost all flawless and pure.
* InfantImmortality: Children get tortured, humiliated, beaten, but seldom die. Two notable exceptions are the novels ''Literature/TheWitches'' and ''Literature/TheBFG'' where children are victims of witches and cannibalistic giants, though we are spared the first-person view.
* InspirationNod: The story "Pig" is clearly written as an homage to Literature/{{Candide}}, including a [[ThePollyanna ridiculously idealistic]] protagonist and a bitingly satirical tone. As a reference to this, the hero's aunt, who raised him, is named Glosspan- a SignificantAnagram for Voltaire's Pangloss.
* IShouldWriteABookAboutThis: Used this ending twice in ''Literature/JamesAndTheGiantPeach'' and ''Literature/TheBFG''.
* NightmareFuelStationAttendant: Dahl earned his title "Master of the Macabre" thanks to a series of mysterious, unpredictable and often bone chilling short stories for adults collected in ''Literature/TalesOfTheUnexpected''. His children's novels are also notorious for disturbing and scary scenes. Let's just say there is a good reason [[NightmareFuel/RoaldDahl why he has his own Nightmare Fuel page.]]
* PopCulturalOsmosis: Dahl started his career as a writer for adults, but is nowadays much better known as a children's author, a demographic he only started writing for when he was already in his 50s.
* SomeDexterityRequired: "The Great Automatic Grammatizator" has an inventor build a (kind of) computer which can write stories. At first, you set the general parameters, like {{Settings}}, {{Genre}} and the main characters, during the writing process (which takes about fifteen minutes), you can pull registers for details, and have two foot pedals to add passion. The narrator compares using the machine to driving a car or flying plane and playing an organ at the same time.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVsCynicism: There is surprisingly a strong amount of both. Some stories could have mean-spirited world and horrible adults as well as a lot of dark content for a children's novel, but the kids, the good people, and the sense of warmth and whimsy created a fair balance of pure optimism with harsh cynicism.
* StoryWithinAStory: A good example would be ''Literature/TheWonderfulStoryOfHenrySugar'' in which Dahl tells how Henry reads an account of a doctor about a man in India who can see with his mind and at one point asks this Indian man to read him a passage from ''Literature/AliceInWonderland'' without using his eyes and only touching the pages. So this particular moment would be a story-within-a story- within-a story-within-a story.
* ToiletHumour: Dahl thanks a lot of his popularity among children for this. The most well known example is the BFG ''whizzpopping'' [[note]] breaking wind [[/note]] after having drank his favorite drink.
* WickedStepmother: James in "James And The Giant Peach" is an orphan who is forced to live with his aunts, who treat him very badly.
* WouldHurtAChild: His books often feature adults who make it their jobs to sadistically abuse and taunt children. Even his autobiography about his childhood involves physically violent school teachers.