Roald Dahl was born of Norwegian parents in South Wales in 1916. In the late thirties he joined an expedition to explore Newfoundland and soon after he started working for the Shell Oil Company in London. He was sent to Nairobi where he enlisted in the Royal Air Force at the outbreak of the Second World War. He was wounded in action, and in 1942 he was moved to Washington, first as Assistant Air Attache, then as an intelligent officer. His literary career started in this period with the publication of a collection of twelve stories based on his wartime memories as a fighter pilot, later collected in Over to You (1946).
His popularity as a short-story writer lies in his taste for the macabre and his mastery of the surprise ending. His work includes several best-sellers, notably Someone Like You (1953), Kiss Kiss (1959), The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More (1977). Many of his stories were dramatized for TV and collected in Tales of the Unexpected. He is also a successful writer of children’s literature.
The novel James and the Giant Peach (1961), written for his own children, soon became a popular success, as did Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964), which was made into the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). He died in 1990.