Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Dahl's Den on Dahl Day

Writing Wednesday
Roald Dahl was one of the greatest writers for children ever. His books are classics, books that I loved as a child and my children have loved reading in recent years. We have a set of five of them as talking books read by Roald Dahl himself, who has a glorious voice to listen to. Fantastic Mr Fox got us through some extrememely late and slightly hair-raising driving to our holiday in Wales this summer.

Dahl is a national treasure, a great talent of whom we should be proud. His shed where he did all his writing has not been touched since his death in 1990. Due to a back injury during the war he was unable to write at a desk so all his works were penned (or rather, pencilled) from his armchair with an adapted writing board. All around the small hut are treasures that tell of his writing life - pictures and ornaments, special paper shipped in from the US, the ashtray and cigarette butts.

Can a place ooze creativity? Just looking at the pictures of it make me feel warm, as if any moment there could be another masterpiece emerging from its depths. It feels comfortable, exciting, inspiring. (Although I bet it was terribly cold in winter!)

Yesterday an appeal was announced for £500,000 to cover the costs of moving Roald Dahl's writing shed to the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden. This has caused a furore! Why should the public fund the shed's removal in these times of austerity when the Dahl family are so wealthy (and particular attention has been drawn to his granddaughter Sophie, a millionaire in her own right)? Given that Puffin sold one Dahl book every 5 seconds last year these arguments have weight. By my calculations, if each book gave 50p of royalty that amounts to £3,153,600, which ought to cover the preservation costs and still leave enough for his widow to live off. (And that excludes any film or other royalties!)

I am delighted that such a treasure is to be saved for the public. I hope and trust that many children (and adults) will be inspired by the room, just as Dahl was, and that further classics will emerge. The Dahl family's PR may have shot itself in the foot, but we should all enjoy this little piece of our collective history. If we can save the house that John Lennon or Paul McCartney grew up in, then we ought to be able to save Dahl's Den too.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Coincidentally I went to Laugharne yesterday where Dylan Thomas's shed is maintained (broadly) as he left it. And I'm sure that Francis bacon's London Studio is now on display in Ireland.

Maybe one day someone will want to see my shed....I can always dream I suppose.

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