Celebrating 100 Years of Roald Dahl in Wales
PHOTO: Cardiff is the birthplace of Roald Dahl. (photo courtesy of Visit Wales)
This is the “Year of Adventure” in Wales, but the country is also celebrating the birth of one of its most famous sons — iconic storyteller Roald Dahl. Dahl created fantastical adventures that are truly out of this world, and visitors can get to know the country of the author’s birth through his eyes in the city where he grew up and in his favorite places to visit as a child.
These are the locales that inspired such favorites as “James and the Giant Peach,” “Matilda” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” The beauty of Wales was planted like a seed in Dahl’s mind and worked to influence his writing and the stories that have enlivened the imaginations of children throughout modern literary history.
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Wales will celebrate the author throughout the year with a variety of significant events. The Hay Festival, beginning on May 1, will honor the author with special programs. On World Book Day, visitors can purchase a book for Roald Dahl book for one pound ($1.44). “The Wundercrump World of Roald Dahl” exhibition will open at the Wales Millennium Center in July. The arts event, "City of the Unexpected," will take place the weekend of Sept. 17-18, in the streets of Cardiff and will include theatrical performances across the city featuring characters from Roald Dahl’s stories.
There is a big push to reinvigorate the memory of Dahl in Wales and further events are being encouraged and invested in by the city of Cardiff.
Follow in the Footsteps of Roald Dahl
Cardiff is the place to begin a journey through Roald Dahl’s Wales. It’s where Dahl was born and where he lived until he was sent to boarding school when he was around age nine. The land of his birth had an effect on his formative years. He loved his hometown and was homesick at boarding school. It is said that he even feigned illness once just to return home to Wales.
Before boarding school, Dahl began his education at Llandaff Cathedral School, which is still a school today, located near the gothic-style Llandaff Cathedral. It was here that his sense of mischief was first realized. A blue plaque marks the location where he admired the suckers and candies of a sweet shop on the High Street. He recounts the story of the "Great Mouse Plot" and the story of the “miseryguts” proprietor of the establishment in his autobiography, “Boy: Tales of Childhood.”
The Norwegian Church is where the author was christened in 1916 and was regularly attended by the family. Today, the church is called the Norwegian Church Arts Centre and Coffee Shop.
The Oval Basin in Cardiff Bay has been renamed Roald Dahl Plass in honor of the literary icon.
Tenby is where the author and his family vacationed at Easter. It is known for its beautiful beaches, Victorian-style homes and warm atmosphere. Dahl wrote of winkle-picking and donkey rides at the beach in his diary, and the Dahl property in Tenby is available as a holiday rental and is still owned by the family.
Known as The Cabin, the home is located at the end of Pier Hill and is one of the most architecturally important buildings in the area, rising from the sea wall and offering views of the harbor and the bay.
Laugharne is the home of Dylan Thomas, who had a profound impact over Dahl. A visit to Thomas’ writing shed as a child on vacation in the area clearly influenced the writer. He was inspired to build his own writing shed in Great Missenden. Referring to an occasion on which he spent time listening to Thomas read his poetry, Dahl said that the experience was the “most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard.” Dahl included Thomas’ poem “In Country Sleep” in his story “Matilda.”
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Three of Laugharne’s most notable attractions follow in the footsteps of Dylan. The Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk is the setting of “Poem in October,” which describes his 30th birthday stroll.
The Boathouse was Dylan Thomas’ home from 1949 to 1953 and is now a museum dedicated to the author and containing memorabilia and original furniture.
The Browns Hotel is where he spent many an afternoon drinking Buckley’s and writing and reading. It is now a recently restored five-star boutique property that boasts a 1940s/50s style.
More by Janeen Christoff
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