The Dark Truth About Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl wrote some of the most beloved children's books in the world, several of which have become movies. Among his most popular titles are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Matilda, and James and the Giant Peach. Chances are you've read at least one of the books or know of at least one of the movies, even if you never knew the author's name. His awards were many, as can be seen on the Roald Dahl Fans website. He was a poet, a screenwriter, and a fighter pilot for the Royal Air Force during World War II.

After the war, he moved to the United States as part of a British spy ring, reports The Telegraph. He befriended presidents and wooed women in the name of counterintelligence. The author was not only accomplished; he lived an insane and exciting life, including, per Biography, marriage to an Academy Award-winning actress, Patricia Neal. And on top of all that, he was a pretty awful dude who said some pretty awful stuff.

'Roald the Rotten' was a worthy title

As it turns out, Dahl wasn't much fun to be around. It's honestly surprising that the guy could write books loved by millions of children everywhere. The author had a mean streak. He was irritable. Oddly enough, he was defensive about the thing that made him famous — being a children's book author. Dahl was all-around bad enough, says the BBC, that Patricia Neal nicknamed him "Roald the Rotten," but she might have had a tiny, little smudge of bias, since he cheated on her repeatedly. His longest affair was with her best friend.

As if being a jerk, in general, wasn't bad enough, Dahl had more than a touch of the racism going on. Several of his books had to have the racism edited out. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory upset the NAACP with its depiction of Oompa-Loompas, and Dahl was worried his profits would be hurt if he didn't do something quick, so he cut the racism down. The BFG made the giant out to be one big racist caricature of Black people, says the Harvard Review of Latin America. It was bad enough that his publisher called him out, saying it was a "derisive stereotype." Dahl's racism was profound and persistent. It's the reason you can still find lists on the internet, like this one on Forward, of anti-Semitic things he said. "Roald the Rotten" is putting it far too mildly.