But he had a darker side, one that is now being acknowledged by his family on his website. They are apologizing for his anti-Semitic views.
Dahl’s work lives on in today’s culture. Netflix made a $1 billion deal to develop his works into films and series. Oscar-winning director Taika Waititi is now making an animated series of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The Witches movie, also based on his novel, just came out in October HBO Max. Anne Hathaway stars.
Dahl died 30 years ago, but his statements are gaining added scrutiny.
Two years ago, the Royal Mint dropped plans to celebrate Dahl’s life with a commemorative coin, citing his anti-Semitic views.
In an interview with the New Statesman in 1983, he said: “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere.”
He added: “Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.”
Dahl doubled down in an article in the Independent in 1990. “I’m certainly anti-Israeli, and I’ve become anti-Semitic in as much as that you get a Jewish person in another country like England strongly supporting Zionism. I think they should see both sides.
“It’s the same old thing: we all know about Jews and the rest of it. There aren’t any non-Jewish publishers anywhere, they control the media – jolly clever thing to do – that’s why the president of the United States has to sell all this stuff to Israel.”
Dahl’s family has quietly issued an apology for his comments on his official website. “The Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company deeply apologize for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by some of Roald Dahl’s statements.
“Those prejudiced remarks are incomprehensible to us and stand in marked contrast to the man we knew and to the values at the heart of Roald Dahl’s stories, which have positively impacted young people for generations.
“We hope that, just as he did at his best, at his absolute worst, Roald Dahl can help remind us of the lasting impact of words.”
The apology stopped short of mentioning his views in his official biography on the website. The family also did not reach out to Jewish organizations.
Dahl was born in 1916 in Wales to Norwegian parents. His first children’s book, The Gremlins, was published in 1943, followed by James and the Giant Peach in 1961, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1964 and Fantastic Mr Fox in 1970.
He also cowrote screenplays for the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as several adult-aimed novels.