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Roald Dahl

When Roald Dahl said, "I am an old man full of metal," he wasn't kidding around. "The head of my femur (that's the large round bone of the hip joint) has been sawn off on both sides and a fearsome stainless-steel spike with a ball on top has been hammered into the hollow of my thighbone and glued into place."

"What on earth, you will ask, has all this got to do with writing books for children? Quite a lot and I'll tell you why. It turns the body into a rickety structure and a rickety structure is no good for climbing trees or going for long walks. It prefers to be sitting comfortably in an armchair with a writing board on the lap and the feet resting on a suitcase. Thus it encourages my work and the only work I know is writing books."

Roald Dahl was born in Wales in 1916 and educated in English boarding schools from the age of nine until twenty. During World War II, he was a Royal Air Force fighter pilot in North Africa and Greece. When his active duty was completed, he was transferred to Washington, D.C., where he was asked to write about some of his adventures. "A Piece of Cake," his first published work, was an account of a fighter plane crashing in Libya. His first piece of fiction was called "The Gremlins," a story about little creatures who make trouble for the Royal Air Force by drilling holes in the planes and wreaking general havoc.

Fifteen years later, Roald Dahl found himself telling bedtime stories to his children over and over again, and those were the basis for James and the Giant Peach, his first published children's novel. After that came Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to be followed by many others, including The BFG, The Witches, and Matilda.

Every book of Roald Dahl's was written in a little brick hut in the apple orchard about two hundred yards away from his home. He wrote them all in pencil ("I never could type"), sometimes with an old sleeping bag wrapped around him, since there was only a paraffin stove to heat the drafty hut. "When I am up here," he said, "I see only the paper I am writing on, and my mind is far away with Willy Wonka or James or Mr. Fox or Danny or whatever else I am trying to cook up. The room itself is of no consequence. It is out of focus, a place for dreaming and floating and whistling in the wind."

Things that Roald Dahl wrote about himself:

I have a passion for paintings and have collected them for many years.

I make good orange marmalade.

I breed orchids and am a keen gardener.

I eat lots of chocolate.

The only dish I have never eaten is tripe.

Beethoven is wonderful.

Pop singers are horrible.

I would like to have been a good doctor.

I have had eight major operations, three on the hips, five on the spine, and countless smaller ones.

Kindness is more important than piety.

I wish my dog could talk to me.

More can be learned about Roald Dahl in his autobiographical Boy: Tales of Childhood and Going Solo, as well as in the chapter called "Lucky Break" in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More. Roald Dahl died in 1990 at the age of seventy-four. Although the world lost one of its most beloved authors, what he has left behind is a rich library of wonderful tales for children of today and tomorrow to discover and enjoy.


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Roger Daniels

Roger Daniels, author of Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II, is a renowned expert on immigration, consultant to PBS and the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island, and expert witness on Japanese-American internment.


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Dante

Dante Alighieri, or simply Dante (1265 – 1321), was an Italian poet from Florence. His central work, the Divina Commedia (originally called "Commedia" and later called "Divina" (divine) by Boccaccio hence "Divina Commedia"), is considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature.


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John Darnton

John Darnton, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the George Polk Award for his journalism, is culture editor for The New York Times and the author of two novels, The Experiment and Neanderthal. He lives in New York.


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Dr. Natalie Zemon Davis

Natalie Zemon Davis is Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. Her books include Slaves on Screen: Film and Historical Vision and Woman on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives. She lives in Toronto, Canada


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Tatiana de Rosnay

TATIANA DE ROSNAY is the author of ten novels, including the New York Times bestselling novel Sarah’s Key, an international sensation with over 4 million copies sold in thirty-five countries worldwide that has now been made into a major film to be released in Spring, 2011. Together with Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer, and Stieg Larsson, she was named one of the top ten fiction writers in Europe in 2009.  Tatiana lives with her husband and two children in Paris, where she is at work on her next novel.


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Dickson Despommier

Dr. Dickson Despommier spent thirty eight years as a professor of microbiology and public health in environmental health sciences at Columbia, where he has won the Best Teacher award six times, and received the national 2003 American Medical Student Association Golden Apple Award for teaching. His work on vertical farms has been featured on such top national media as BBC, French National television, CNN, The Colbert Report, and The Tonight Show, as well as in full-length articles in The New York Times, Time Magazine, Scientific American, and The Washington Post. He spoke at the TED Conference, Pop!Tech and the World Science Festival and has been invited by the governments of China, India, Mexico, Jordan, Brazil, Canada, and Korea to work on environmental problems. He has been invited to speak at numerous national and international professional annual meetings as a keynote speaker, and at universities, including Harvard and MIT. He is one of the visionaries featured at the Chicago Museum of Science and Technology. Despommier lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey.


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Joan Didion

Joan Didion is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, as well as several screenplays written with her late husband, John Gregory Dunne. Her books include The White Album, Play It As It Lays, and Slouching Towards Bethlehem. She lives in New York City.


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Displaying 1-15 of 22