Roald Dahl was probably my favourite author growing up (along with, um, RL Stine). Before I cared anything about writing and books and publishing, all I knew was that I enjoyed reading his stories. His storytelling was always so effortless and his stories and characters were always so interesting and amusing. Danny, The Champion of the World and Witches are two of the first (and few of the only) books I have re-read because I loved them so much.
Mr Dahl passed away in 1990, and even though the popularity of his books has persevered, it was with some surprise for me to see his name in the papers today. Dahl’s authorised biography is coming out soon, and apparently it has plenty of juicy nuggets of information about Dahl’s “other” life.
I knew Roald Dahl was once fighter jet pilot in World War II, which must have made him popular with the ladies. But according to this new biography, he was doubling as a spy gathering intelligence for the British government in the US and also happened to bang every high society woman that threw themselves at him (and there were a lot).
”He was very arrogant with his women,” said Antoinette Haskell, a wealthy friend, ” but he got away with it. The uniform didn’t hurt one bit – and he was an ace [pilot]. I think he slept with everybody on the east and west coasts that had more than $50,000 a year.”
According to family and friends, Mr Dahl also wasn’t very good at keeping secrets, so I guess everyone knew about his exploits.
“Dad never could keep his mouth shut,” said his daughter Lucy. “He gossiped like a girl.”
Of all the things I expected to learn about Roald Dahl, finding out that he was, basically, Wilt Chamberlain, was not one of them!
For those who don’t know, Chamberlain was an NBA star who claimed to have bedded more than 20,000 women during his career. While Roald Dahl may not have reached those astronomical numbers, in my opinion Dahl trumped Chamberlain as I believe in quality over quantity.
Actresses, congresswomen, oil heiresses — you name it and Mr Dahl did it (them) all. Chamberlain only had NBA groupies, cheerleaders and air hostesses.