Roald Dahl became a British poet, author, and wartime fighter pilot. He was born in 1916 in Wales. His parents had emigrated to the United Kingdom from Norway, so his first language was Norwegian. His mother belonged to a family of lawyers, priests, and wealthy merchants and estate owners. His father was a wealthy shipbroker. When Dahl was three years old, his sister died of appendicitis and his father died of pneumonia three weeks later, leaving the family a considerable fortune.
Royal Air Force
Roald Dahl avoided a university education, and when World War II began, he enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF). Dahl flew Gloster Gladiator biplane fighters and then Hawker Hurricanes during the war. He flew a total of 57 operational missions and was involved in several aerial battles. During one of his missions in September 1940, Dahl's plane crash landed in the Libyan desert. He suffered severe injuries to his skull, spine, and hip, and was hospitalized for several months. After his recovery, Dahl returned to active duty and flew missions in Greece and Syria until he was released from active service in 1941. He then became an assistant air attaché for the British Embassy in Washington D.C. where he also worked as a spy for the British government.
In the 1920s, Cabury and Towntree were the two largest chocolate makers in England. They would often attempt to steal trade secrets from each other using spies posing as employees. During this time, chocolate companies used to send sample packages to children in schools in exchange for their opinions on the products. Roald Dahl remembers receiving these packages during his school years, and the experience inspired him to write Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
When Roald Dahl was 8-years old, he and his friends were disciplined by the headmaster of their school because they put a dead mouse in a jar of Gobstoppers at a local sweet shop owned by a "mean and loathsome" old woman. The shop owner, Mrs. Pratchett, inspired Dahl's character of the cruel headmistress Miss Trunchbull in Matilda. In the story, Matilad's friend, Lavender, puts a newt in the water jug belonging to Trunchbull. Dahl even incorporated an Everlasting Gobstopper into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Roald Dahl's first children's book was The Gremlins, a fantasy novel that tells the story of mischievous creatures known as gremlins. The book was published in 1943 and was inspired by Dahl's experiences as a fighter pilot in World War II. In the book, the gremlins are depicted as small, green creatures who love to cause trouble for pilots and their aircraft. The story follows a young pilot named Gus, who meets the gremlins and learns to work with them to defeat a common enemy.