Rachel White, the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre’s Archivist, shares some delightful examples of Roald Dahl’s letters to children
As well as the many wonderful archive manuscript drafts and intriguing objects we hold in the archive collection, we also have examples of Roald Dahl’s letters to children. He received a great number of letters from children from all over the world, and even had a huge map in his house with pins showing where the letters had come from. Often he received letters from whole school classes and together with his secretary, Roald Dahl always made sure that each class letter received a reply, customised to each class and their teacher.
However, he also ensured that individual letters were replied to and as many children start back at school after the Christmas holidays, we thought we’d share a particularly lovely example that we received a copy of recently.
In 1967, a girl called Elizabeth started at a new school and found it very hard to settle in. She wrote to Roald Dahl telling him about it, and was thrilled to get a postcard back from him, encouraging her to try to imagine being happier, as he’d ‘heard tell that what you imagine sometimes comes true’.
His postcard, addressed to Elizabeth at ‘Stoke-Upon-Trent, Staffordshire, England, Europe, The World, The Universe’ helped her enormously and she wrote back a few months later to tell him that she had indeed settled in and how she had made lots of friends. Roald Dahl was delighted, promising to celebrate her news and ‘eat cake and bars of chocolate that I get from Charlie Bucket at the Chocolate Factory just around the corner from where I live’.
He finishes his letter ‘Try and be a Dinketysnipsy girl, then you will always be happy’.
The little girl Elizabeth eventually became Class Leader and Prefect of her school and later became a teacher. Remembering her own experiences, she always tried to make sure that new starters at her school were looked after, quoting Roald Dahl’s own words of encouragement.