Sunday, November 9, 2008

Felicity Dahl talks about her husband in the Guardian

In one of her rare interviews, Roald Dahl's widow talks candidly about "the love of her life" and what they went through to be together. I would be an entirely different person if my childhood hadn't been shaped by the wonders of Roald Dahl's imagination. Entirely.

"Felicity, known to her friends and family as Liccy (pronounced Lissy), rarely gives interviews. The requests come in a steady stream, but remembering is an emotive business and she is extremely busy running the Roald Dahl Foundation, a grant-giving charity that aims to help children in the areas of literacy, neurology and haematology. The foundation is about to launch a series of free concerts at Kings Place in London, featuring orchestral versions of Dahl's stories.

Today, however, she has agreed to speak in order to publicise the inaugural Roald Dahl Funny Prize, to be awarded on Thursday to this year's most humorous children's book. The prize, organised by the charity Booktrust, is being judged by a panel that includes Michael Rosen, the Children's Laureate, and Dahl's granddaughter, model Sophie Dahl.

'People often ask me, "Did he tell lots of jokes?"' says Felicity. 'No. It is in his writing, in his descriptions of things. It was a hidden, subversive humour, not a comedian telling jokes.

'Children were his friends, that's what kept him going. The fact that they loved his stories and would then go on to read Biggles and everything else - that, to him, was a miracle. He said, "I feel a bit like a pop star."'

She says he would have been horrified by the erosion of children's imaginations by computer games. 'I think [computer] games are absolutely appalling. A child is never left on their own with nothing, so that they have to create their world. The Game Boys and that ghastly stuff have come in and they are absolutely like this...' She does an impression of a goggle-eyed teen staring at a hand-held screen. 'Roald would have had a fit at that."

You can read the full article in the guardian.

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