Love From Boy: Roald Dahl’s letters to his mother
Love from Boy
ed. Donald Sturrock
In this centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth, Steven Spielberg’s film of The BFG is set to be a family blockbuster. We can also enjoy the master storyteller’s letters to his “dear Mama”. The early, exuberant letters are from Dahl’s schooldays, his time in Tanganyika and his wartime pilot training. The young Dahl’s energy, irreverence, scabrous humour and wild imagination are in evidence, but he never burdens his mother with anything but positive news; the hardships of boarding school, Africa and pilot training in the Iraqi desert are brushed away with jokes: “the sun is still shining and the natives are still black”.The letters become more restrained as Dahl becomes a full-time storyteller and no longer needs to hone his madcap style. Real events can be too dark even for Dahl’s optimistic nature; he refers to his wife’s and son’s illnesses, but the tragedy of losing his seven-year-old daughter Olivia, to whom he dedicated The BFG, isn’t mentioned.