In The Tonic Comms Blog

At The Tonic, as PR professionals we’re naturally also avid bookworms. So we couldn’t let September slide by without a nod to both National Read A Book Day (6 September) and Roald Dahl Day (13 September).

A straw poll pointed to Roald Dahl as one of the team’s favoured wordsmiths – after all, he has sold over 250 million books worldwide. And who hasn’t got fond memories of reciting the oompa loompa song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or being completely horrified by Miss Trunchbull?

The celebrated author is best known for writing children’s fiction and in 2016, the Roald Dahl 100 celebration – commemorating the centenary of his birth, especially focused on his tales for youngsters. Yet the firm positioning of Roald Dahl as a favourite children’s author seemed to purposefully ignore the darker side to his writing found in his twisted adult tales, obscuring this side of Dahl from the family bookshelf.

The UK’s 2016 Summer Reading Challenge held in libraries, which encouraged children to read six books or more over their school holiday, was Roald Dahl themed. The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Buckinghamshire targets families with children. The 2016 Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl Exhibition and The British Library’s 2017 Quentin Blake Exhibition also only celebrated characters from Dahl’s fiction for kids. But little, is mentioned about Roald Dahl’s adult short stories. So, we’re happy to bridge that gap.

Dahl’s adult tales are collected in four books, published between the 1940s and the 1970s and include: Over to You, Someone Like You, Kiss Kiss and Switch Bitch. These short stories highlight the sinister side of human nature and portray the author as being a much darker writer than his works for children suggest. The centenary events paid little attention to tales like that of a wife hitting her husband over the head with a frozen leg of lamb and then feeding it to the police (Lamb to the Slaughter), leaving readers firmly associating Roald Dahl with the lighter topics of chocolate factories and strict head teachers.

And with Matilda set to be at the heart of 2019’s upcoming Roald Dahl Day, his contribution to fiction through tales of unhappy marriages and murder will continue to be side-lined. If you fancy getting an insight into both sides of the Dahl world, click here to check out all his works on Amazon.

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