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What Did Roald Dahl Do before He Wrote Books?

Before Roald Dahl wrote books, the British children’s author worked for Shell Oil Company in Africa and then was a Royal Air Force fighter pilot for the British Armed Forces in World War II. He decided to pursue a writing career after he was seriously injured in a near fatal plane crash in 1942. Although Dahl is most well-known for his 19 children’s books, he first broke into writing for adults through magazine articles, adult short stories, and novellas. Dahl’s first children’s book James and the Giant Peach was published in 1961, followed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1964.

More about Roald Dahl:

  • Dahl was hired as a screenwriter for the 1977 film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but was actually replaced for not meeting deadlines.

  • Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond book series, was friends with Dahl and had the children’s author write a screenplay for the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice.

  • After his son was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a condition that can cause brain swelling because of the accumulation of fluid, Dahl helped invent a cerebral shunt known as the Wade-Dahl-Till valve to prevent the buildup of fluid in the skull.

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