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Fantastic Mr Dahl - Matthew Dennison

Books | By Matthew Dennison

With daughters Tessa and Olivia, 1960

In his new biography, Matthew Dennison unearths a rule-breaking, generous, self-aware genius

‘I’m a perfectly ordinary fellow, except that I happen to be very tall,’ Roald Dahl told a group of children in 1975. He was indeed large. At his public school, Repton, Dahl was unusual in the early 1930s in being six foot five by his mid-teens. It was one reason – alongside his broken voice – that he was chosen for the hero’s part in a class reading of Romeo and Juliet. His size became central to Dahl’s identity. Repeatedly – and for better, as well as worse – his sense of his own bigness coloured his engagement with the world, shaped his expectations, forged a feeling of entitlement and even vainglory, and contributed to his considerable glamour as a young man and the imaginative bravado of his writing for children. ...

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