C&TCF Tidbit #18: Sold!

by Roald Dahl

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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C&TCF Tidbit #18: Sold!

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat Feb 19, 2005 11:06 am

More auction news:

Treasure trove of photographs casts light on Dahl's dark imagination

Steven Morris
Wednesday December 8, 2004
The Guardian


Roald Dahl fans may already know the origins of Willy Wonka's name (it was adapted from a childhood toy of the writer's called the Skilly Wonka).

But even the most avid of Dahl fans may not have realised how a version of a soup made of meat, berries and mud which the young Roald ate while on expedition in Canada turned up in his adventure James and the Giant Peach.

Nor are they probably aware of the connections between a barber's chair in Dar es Salaam, the former capital of Tanzania, to one of Wonka's confections, hair toffee.

Fresh details of Dahl's life and times which provide clues to the inspiration behind some of his imaginings have been found in a stash of photographs, most taken by him.

Forty of the photographs are to be auctioned at Christie's on Monday with the proceeds going to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, which is being built in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, the village where Dahl worked from a hut in his garden.

Dahl's family, which is setting up the centre to promote children's literacy, are hoping the interest in the writer - a new version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka is being released in the summer - will lead to interest in the sale.

Dahl's grandson, Luke Kelly, 18, an assistant photographer at American Vogue, came upon the photographs in the form of negatives and contact sheets in the writer's archive as it was being sorted for the new centre.

When he developed the negatives - he did some of the work in a potting shed near his grandfather's hut - Kelly was in a potting shed near his grandfather's hut - Kelly was amazed at the insights they gave into Dahl's life and at the quality of the photographs. "They are very striking. The photos he took show what a strong, creative, highly visual mind he had," said Kelly who knew Dahl as Mouldy.

Dahl's widow, Liccy, was particularly taken with the photographs which cast fresh light on Dahl's wartime experiences. He was involved in a terrifying plane crash while in the RAF. "I found those images particularly moving. They give an insight into what he went through in the war," she said.

The first images in the collection, not taken by Dahl, show him as a child. In one he stands on the beach at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset where he attended prep school. In a letter to his "mama", reproduced in the auction catalogue, he wrote: "The beds have no springs here. Will you send my stamp album and quite a lot of swops."

His interest in photography began at his second school, Repton. One of the images to be auctioned shows a cross-section of a grass stalk he took in 1933.

In a hitherto unpublished letter he wrote: "It's jolly good fun photographing such things as the brain of an earth worm." Such fascination with the internal workings of creepy-crawlies was to serve him well in some of his visceral tales.

After school Dahl spent time in Africa and the Mediterranean, working for Shell and in the RAF.

His photos, taken with a trusty Zeiss camera, of the bazaar at Baghdad, Babylon and the Arch of Ctesiphon in Iraq particularly impressed Kelly.

In Boy, his autobiography, Dahl wrote of how he took the photograph of the arch: "I was over the desert solo in an old Hawker Hart biplane and I had my camera round my neck. I dropped one wing and hung in my straps and let go of the stick while I took aim and clicked the shutter. It came out fine."

But it is the photographs which can be linked directly to Dahl's children's tales which may prompt most interest at auction. One shows a group of boys crouched around a campfire. It was taken in 1934 by Dahl when he took part in the Public Schools Explorers Society expedition to Newfoundland.

While on a trek, the boys had to survive on a hot soup they called hooch made of "pemmican", a concoction of pressed meat, fat, berries and lentils, boiled with a little mud or weed. It is thought this was the inspiration for the Centipede's song from James and the Giant Peach: "I've eaten many strange and scrumptious dishes in my time/ Like jellied gnats and dandyprats and earwigs cooked in slime/ And mice with rice - they're really nice/ When roasted in their prime/ (But don't forget to sprinkle them with just a pinch of grime)".

Also included in the sale is a photograph of Dahl having his hair cut by a barber in Dar es Salaam. While in east Africa, Dahl met a man whom he nicknamed UN Savory. He later wrote that Mr Savory went to such lengths to hide his baldness that not only did he wear a wig, he sprinkled epsom salts on his shoulders and pretended he had dandruff.

Such ridiculous behaviour and concerns about losing his own hair inspired Dahl to get Wonka to invent hair toffee. "You eat just one tiny bit of that," says Wonka, "and in exactly half an hour a brand new luscious thick silky beautiful crop of hair will start growing out all over the top of your head!"

Another photo for Dahl scholars is a portrait of a tanned young man sat on a rock beside a stretch of water.

The relevance to the Dahl legend? It is none other than Roald's half-brother Louis who, thanks to his invention of a boomerang-type toy called the Skilly Wonka, supplied the name of the world's most famous fictional factory owner.

Image

'Mama and me'
Roald Dahl aged four with his mother, Sofia, in Ty Mynydd, Radyr, Wales, circa 1920.
Christie's Images Ltd 2004



Image

On the beach
Dahl dressed in his St Peter's Prep School uniform, on the beach at Weston-super-Mare, circa 1925.
Christie's Images Ltd 2004



Image

Camera action
Roald Dahl in Repton School uniform, holding his camera, circa 1930.
Christie's Images Ltd 2004



Image

Louis Dahl
Louis, Roald's half-brother, in Norway circa 1932. Louis invention of a boomerang-type toy, the Skilly Wonka, later supplied Dahl with the name of his fantastical factory owner.
Christie's Images Ltd 2004



Image

Patricia Neal
Actress Patricia Neal, whom Dahl married in 1953, with children under her skirts.
Christie's Images Ltd 2004



Image

Dahl with his grandson
Roald Dahl and his grandson Luke Kelly on Kelly's fourth birthday. Kelly, now 18, discovered his grandfather's archive.
Christie's Images Ltd 2004


To see a complete catalogue of the photographs from the auction, including the ones referenced below and Dahl's personal commentaries on the pictures :

http://www.christies.com/promos/dec04/photoCharity_ks/7153_dahl.pdf

The Result…

December 31, 2004
£84,000 for Roald Dahl photos


PRIVATE photographs taken by classic children's author Roald Dahl have fetched more than £84,000 at a charity auction. Proceeds have been earmarked for the Roald Dahl Museum and new Story Centre, which opens In Great Missenden in June.

Among the lots up for sale at Christie's on Monday, December 14th, were a picture of Roald Dahl's first wife Patricia Neal with children sat under her skirt which sold for £7,500. . .

Dahl's widow, Liccy, was particularly taken with the photographs which cast fresh light on Dahl's wartime experiences. She said: "I found those images particularly moving. They give an insight into what he went through in the war."

Two photographs of Baghdad market taken by the author in 1940 fetched £5,500 while his picture of the Arch of Ctesiphon in Iran made £6,000.

Source: http://www.cronaca.com/archives/003109.html
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby lizbet » Sat Feb 19, 2005 7:28 pm

DITHOT - thanks for the con't background on Dahl - I'm not a photographer but anything which helps shed light on the author's life and creativity I think is fascinating and may help us appreciate his writings a little more - interesting that his daughter wrote / writes (1st or 2nd tidbit?) and his grandson is a photographer - makes you wonder about the old debate of 'nature vs nuture' :eyebrow:
trying to live in "a profound state of ignorance"

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es
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Unread postby es » Sun Feb 20, 2005 7:43 am

nice to read about what trickeres his imagianition and to see how some actuele not really strange thinks ending up in his books as very fantastic elements.
btw,i just loved the pic with the kids under mams skirt,so sweet.
greetings,
es

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Liz
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Unread postby Liz » Sun Feb 20, 2005 10:38 am

es wrote:nice to read about what trickeres his imagianition and to see how some actuele not really strange thinks ending up in his books as very fantastic elements.
btw,i just loved the pic with the kids under mams skirt,so sweet.
greetings,
es


I love that pic, too, es. It's so artistic. The dress reminds me of a dress I used to have for my Midge doll.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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