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A Natural Storyteller: Discovering Dahl’s Buckinghamshire

To celebrate the reopening of the Roald Dahl Museum on Thursday 10 September 2020, we invited the team at the museum on board to take over our social media channels for the day to tell our history loving fans about the beloved local author, and key literary figure of the 20th century.

We’re proud to republish here some archived blogs by the Roald Dahl Museum, with their permission, which all reveal more about Dahl’s time in Buckinghamshire, and how it influenced his writing.

Roald Dahl Museum and Buckinghamshire History Festival

Roald Dahl and the Chiltern Hills

Roald Dahl lived in the Chilterns for over 40 years of his life and wrote many of his most famous books for children ensconced in his little writing hut in the Buckinghamshire village of Great Missenden. However, his stories were often influenced and sometimes even inspired by the surrounding landscape. Roald Dahl explained in the pamphlet Reflections: A Profile of Roald Dahl in 1975, when looking for the plot for his next book he would “mooch around the house, the garden, the countryside, the village streets, searching and searching for this bright and fantastic new idea…” Read more…

The Chiltern Hills near Great Missenden
The Chiltern Hills near Great Missenden

Roald Dahl’s wonderful natural world

Living and working in the Buckinghamshire countryside was a source of stimulus and pleasure for Roald. His garden and the local area provided the seeds of inspiration for several of his stories, from James and the Giant Peach to Fantastic Mr Fox.

Roald’s love of the natural world went back to his boyhood. He would write his diaries high up in the tall conker tree in the family’s garden in Llandaff, later describing the experience as sitting in a ‘cave of green leaves surrounded by hundreds of those wonderful white candles that are the conker tree’s flowers’, hidden from the rest of the world. Read more…

Roald Dahl in his garden
Roald Dahl in his garden (c) Sanjiro Minamikawa

Walking in Roald Dahl’s Footsteps

Great Missenden is a busy but inviting village, and living here provided Roald with a great deal of material which he poured into his books. It just goes to show that the strangest things, like a bright red petrol pump, can inspire a brilliant story. Take a walk around Great Missenden, and discover the place that inspired and influenced Roald Dahl in some of his wonderful children’s books. Read more…

Petrol pumps at the old Gas Station in Great Missenden
Petrol pumps in Great Missenden that inspired Danny Champion of the World

Rural intrigue and influence…

Much of Roald Dahl’s life was spent living and working in the Buckinghamshire countryside, and provided the setting for some of his most beloved children’s stories such as James and the Giant Peach. However, his early experience of rural life in the area during the late 1940s and early 1950s also inspired some of his short stories for adults. Published together in the 1988 collection, Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life, these stories explore comical schemes, devious deceptions and countryside occupations with a gruesome twist. Read more…

Thatched cottage in Grendon Underwood home to Roald Dahl 1946
The cottage in Grendon Underwood where Dahl lived with his mother, c. 1946


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