Early Writing Career
While in Washington, D.C., Dahl met with author C.S. Forrester, who encouraged him to start writing. Dahl published his first short story in the Saturday Evening Post. He went on to write stories and articles for other magazines, including The New Yorker. Of his early writing career, Dahl told New York Times book reviewer Willa Petschek, "As I went on the stories became less and less realistic and more fantastic." He went on to describe his foray into writing as a "pure fluke," saying, "Without being asked to, I doubt if I'd ever have thought to do it."
Dahl wrote his first story for children, The Gremlins, in 1942, for Walt Disney. The story wasn't terribly successful, so Dahl went back to writing macabre and mysterious stories geared toward adult readers.
The same year that Someone Like You was published, Dahl married film actress Patricia Neal, who won an Academy Award for her role in Hud in 1961. The marriage lasted three decades and resulted in five children, one of whom tragically died in 1962.
Dahl told his children nightly bedtime stories that inspired his future career as a children's writer. These stories became the basis for some of his most popular kids' books, as his children proved an informative test audience. "Children are ... highly critical. And they lose interest so quickly," he asserted in his New York Times book review interview. " You have to keep things ticking along. And if you think a child is getting bored, you must think up something that jolts it back. Something that tickles. You have to know what children like."
After Neal suffered from multiple brain hemorrhages in the mid-1960s, Dahl stood by her through her long recovery. The couple would eventually divorce in 1983. Soon after, Dahl remarried to Felicity Ann Crosland, his partner until his death in 1990.
Dahl first established himself as a children’s writer in 1961, when he published the book James and the Giant...