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Homework Help

What should I write about?
– Younger students –
– Older students –
– Mature students –

Where can I get information?
– Actual Dahl Books –
– Biographies –
– Criticism/Analysis –
– Other Information –

Where can I read Dahl stories on the Internet?

How should I cite materials from your website?

Who can I discuss my idea with?

How NOT to write a Dahl paper...

What should I write about?

Okay, this is going to take some creativity on your part. Roald Dahl is such a popular author that a lot of other people probably want to write about him too. You should make your project STAND OUT! Here are some ideas to get you going:

For younger students:

  • What makes Roald Dahl books different from other authors'? What makes you like them better? Is it the plot (the action and story)? Is it the characters? Or is it the way he writes? Use examples from as many different Dahl books as you can.
  • In both Danny the Champion of the World and The Witches, the main characters are children with intense ties to a single parent/grandparent. Roald Dahl himself was raised by just his mother and they had a very special relationship his entire life. Do you have any relationships like this in your life? How do you think it affected him and the characters he writes about?
  • Roald Dahl has written about traditional fairy tale characters like witches and giants in his books The Witches and The BFG. How are his monsters different from the monsters in other children's books? Are his more realistic? Does that make them more scary?

For older students:

Additional topics for mature scholars:

  • Dahl was accused of racism and anti–Semitism several times throughout his career. Do you feel such claims are valid? If so, does that negate his books' other merits? I recommend you read Jeremy Treglown's Dahl biography along with Barry Farrell's Pat and Roald and Patricia Neal's As I Am. There are also some interesting letters and articles at The New York Times Book Review.
  • Research the "short story" and Dahl's place within the genre. Some critics argue that he is one of the best to ever attempt it, while others claim his stories relied too much on grotesque characters and "trick" endings. Do you agree? Which stories seem to work the best for you? Why? Cite as many examples as you can.
  • Compare and contrast Dahl's writing in his two genres. How is it possible for the same author to write some of the most beloved children's books of all time as well as dozens of macabre (and often racy) short stories? Does his style of writing change depending upon the audience? Do you prefer one genre over the other? Why?

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Where can I get information?

Actual Dahl Books:

    As always, the best place to check is your local library. Don't forget to check both the children's and the adult sections! (Dahl is often located in both.) If you want to buy Dahl books for yourself, nearly any good bookshop will have recent editions of his material. Use the resources below if you're not sure which book you're looking for or if you'd like to order Dahl books on the Web:

  • Books   All the information I could find for just about every Dahl book, including first edition information, plot summaries, and anthology descriptions.
  • Short Stories   Information and summaries for many of Dahl's stories.
  • Where to Buy   Locate both rare and contemporary editions of Dahl books and order them for your own collection!
  • The Internet   You cannot read Roald Dahl stories online! Read why.


  • My Dahl Biography   Okay, okay... So it isn't *quite* finished yet. It's a good start though, if you want to get a basic idea of the events in Dahl's life without running to the library.
  • Biographies   Links to all of the books listed below and several more.
  • Roald Dahl: A Biography   Written by Jeremy Treglown, this is the absolute best Dahl biography in publication. It's a lengthy read, but a definite must for any older student researching Dahl.
  • What's Their Story? – Roald Dahl   Written by Andrea Shavick, this book is currently only available in the U.K. (but it will be published in the U.S. soon). I've already had a chance to see this book, and I recommend it for any younger student interested in learning about Dahl's life.
  • Boy – Tales of Childhood   Written by Roald Dahl. Read about Dahl's childhood in his own words in this autobiography aimed at adolescent readers.
  • Going Solo   Written by Roald Dahl. This sequel to Boy tells of Dahl's adventures in East Africa and his career in the RAF during World War II.
  • Pat and Roald   Written by Barry Farrell. This book (later made into the film The Patricia Neal Story) chronicles the difficult aftermath of Neal's strokes in 1965. She later claimed that the book was biased and misrepresented her.
  • As I Am   Written by Patricia Neal. This autobiography covers Neal's whole life, most of which she spent as Mrs. Roald Dahl. This was her answer to the portrait painted in Pat and Roald.


    Basically this is much harder to find than biographical information. You're going to have to do some serious digging at the biggest library you can find. Please don't write asking me to send critical essays to you; I don't have any, and I probably wouldn't take the trouble if I did. I'd just post them at this site and be done with it. Oh, and any reviews that I have would be listed under the appropriate books on the Books page or stories on the Short Stories page.

    This is all I've managed to find on the Web and in libraries, but if you find anymore please let me know:

  • Roald Dahl   Written by Mark I. West. Published by Twayne and Maxwell McMillan International in 1992. Offers criticism and interpretation.
  • New York Times Book Review   You have to register, but it's free. Search for "Roald Dahl" and you should find some interesting articles and letters.
  • Gale Group Library Resources   Search by author and find books of criticism to order.

Other Information:

  • My Site   Yeah, yeah... You're here, so you've obviously been around my page a little. There's a lot more than you realize, though, and if you dig you just might find what you're looking for.
  • Links   There's not a *lot* of other Dahl stuff on the Web, but you might try one of these links if you can't find something you need at my site.
  • If all else fails and you absolutely cannot find something you need for your project, write me and I'll do everything I can to help you. But I get a lot of requests, so please do your best to locate it yourself first.

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Where can I read Dahl stories on the Internet?

The short answer: You can't.

The long answer: You're not going to find any Roald Dahl stories on the Internet because of a little something called "copyright." Mr. Dahl's family still owns all the rights to his stories and it would be ILLEGAL for anybody to post them on the 'Net. If everybody could read his books for free, then nobody would buy them anymore. I know, I know... You're probably thinking that since you're such a big Dahl fan you'd buy the books anyway, but you've got to look at it from our (i.e. website owner's) perspective. I have a good relationship with the Dahl Foundation right now and I'm not going to jeopardize that by basically stealing from them. There *are* a few bits and pieces of his stuff out there (this site contains some), but as these are generally just fragments they fall under the law of "acceptable fair use." That means that it's legal to quote parts of things to make a point, but not the whole thing. You can read more about this on my FAQ page. So sorry... you'll just have to go the library!

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How should I cite materials from your website?

Well, it depends on what you're citing, really. The Modern Language Association has come up with a few formats for electronic texts but you'll probably have to modify them to fit your needs. The generic model seems to be:

    Author(s). Date of Posting/Revision. Date of Access. <>.

For the author, you should list either me (Kristine Howard) or whoever wrote the specific piece you're quoting. The date of posting/revision is usually listed on the page, but if you can't find it write me and I'll let you know. The date of access is the date you visited the page. And don't forget, for the address you should include the entire path to the page you're quoting.

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Who can I discuss my idea with?

Well, for starters... ME. I'd love to hear about your project and discuss issues with you. You can contact me and I promise I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Other people to contact/discuss with:

  • Teachers/Librarians   You might be surprised how many educators are Dahl fans themselves! And even if they're not, they're sure to have good ideas to help you along with your project.
  • Kristie Hand   A teacher with previous experience writing Dahl papers. See an example of one she wrote. She says she would be glad to give you some help.
  • Links   Visit some of the other Dahl pages on the Web and see what kind of ideas their maintainers have. We're generally a pretty helpful bunch... *grin*

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How NOT to write a Dahl paper...

First, check out this free (!) Dahl biography I found on the 'Net. What's wrong with it?

  • It's badly written. Badly. It sucks.
  • There are a number of VERY BAD FACTUAL ERRORS. For example, Shell was a company Dahl worked for - not a school.
  • The author didn't even read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He refers to numerous events ("Charlie... gave back an 'Everlasting Gobstopper' that Mr. Wonka gave him") that DID NOT HAPPEN IN THE BOOK. He simply watched the movie and wrote down what he remembered.
  • The author makes some ridiculous ASSUMPTIONS. He says, "If someone was mean to Dahl he planned a way to get back at him." How can anybody say this? Does the author know Roald Dahl?
  • What is the point of a sentence like: "Many children today like candy and adventure"? That's IDIOTIC. It's just filler to pad the word count. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Roald Dahl or the topic.
  • I won't even go into the religious issues. Suffice it to say that Roald Dahl's stories were NEVER about obedience to authority. This author has got it all wrong.

Please, please, PLEASE never do this. Ever. Anyone who reads a paper like this gets automatically dumber, and I don't like being dumber. If you're stuck, ask for help. I'd gladly walk you through your paper rather than bring another one of these into the world. *shudder*

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