The 6 books that turned Roald Dahl into an insatiable reader

Roald Dahlbooks

This day, ninety-seven years ago, the legendary author Roald Dahl was born to Norwegian parents in Wales. He went on to become one of the world’s best selling authors. Famed for darkly humorous children’s classics like James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Witches, he first started writing during the Forties when he was a fighter pilot in North Africa.

His incredibly adventurous life doubtlessly influenced his stories and novels. However, in his autobiographical book, Boy: Tales of Childhood, Dahl also explains how his English teacher, Mrs. O’Connor influenced him hugely with a simple reading list.

“In two and a half hours, we grew to love Langland and his Piers Plowman. The next Saturday, it was Chaucer, and we loved him, too. Even rather difficult fellows like Milton and Dryden and Pope all became thrilling when Mrs O’Connor told us about their lives and read parts of their work to us aloud. And the result of all this, for me at any rate, was that by the age of 13 I had become intensely aware of the vast heritage of literature that had been built up in England over the centuries. I also became an avid and insatiable reader of good writing.”

In honour of a man whose writing has made countless children and adults insatiable readers of good writing too, we’ve unearthed five free e-books on Mrs O’ Connors list, plus another book of Norwegian fairy tales, read to him by his mother.

The Vision and Creed of Piers Ploughman 

by William Langland

Roald Dahl books2

Paradise Lost 

by John Milton

The Canterbury Tales, and Other Poems

by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Poetical Works of John Dryden, Volume 1

by John Dryden


An Essay on Man; Moral Essays and Satires

by Alexander Pope


The Norwegian Fairy Book

by Clara Stroebe.

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