Roald Dahl’s Letters to his Mother

51nTDFSZ38L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Christopher Hart at Literary Review:

The whole world knows Roald Dahl as the creator of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and the unspeakably disgusting Twits. His characters are marked by a wickedly mocking view of the adult world (a sine qua non for any children’s writer of worth), an imagination that knows no rules and at times a distinct whiff of cruelly funny misanthropy.

In his letters home to his mother, argues Donald Sturrock in the introduction to this entertaining and eye-opening collection, we see Dahl’s talent being born. Her only son, Dahl began to write letters in 1925, at the age of nine, from prep school; they continued until two years before his mother’s death in 1967. He was a born entertainer, a writer without realising it, and he wrote with that jaunty cheerfulness, come what may, which often marked the generation who lived through the horrors of the Second World War.

His mother’s letters to him, sadly, have not survived. Sofie Magdalene Dahl was born in Oslo in 1884 to ‘solid middle-class parents’, says Sturrock: her father worked for the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund. On her mother’s side, though, she was descended from William Wallace, so memorably depicted on screen by Mel Gibson as a Scottish football hooligan with hair extensions. She adored her Boy and was pragmatic, unsentimental and evidently completely unshockable. ‘Dauntless’ was how her son described her in his memoir Boy and ‘undoubtedly the primary influence on my own life’.

more here.