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Happy Roald Dahl Day!

Roald DahlThe renowned British children’s book author, screenwriter, and WWII fighter pilot, was born one hundred years ago, today (September 13, 1916). Dahl (or more accurately his books) has been in the headlines often in 2016, first as Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Dahl’s classic The BFG hit the theaters and again after the death of the actor Gene Wilder, whose most-celebrated role was as the eccentric Willy Wonka in the 1971 film adaptation of Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (renamed Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory). 

Many book collectors doubtless brought their children (or grandchildren) to see The BFG and/or played Wilder’s classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (or at least watched him sing “Pure Imagination” on YouTube -- scroll down to play the video for a little music while you peruse the rare Dahl books on this page) after Wilder's passing, and have been reading Dahl stories at bedtime. However, if you have a Roald Dahl first edition or two — especially of his earlier books — you might want to make sure they’re safely out of reach on a high shelf until the next generation has learned to handle rare books properly.

Roald Dahl joined the Royal Air Force at the beginning of WWII. After surviving a crash that fractured his skull and temporarily blinded him, Dahl became a fighter ace, before lingering headaches from his injuries forced him from the cockpit. Sent to the British Embassy on a diplomatic posting in 1942, Dahl was asked by C.S. Forester to write down some incidents from his time as a fighter pilot for Forester to weave into a thrilling tale for propaganda purposes. When Forester read what Dahl wrote, he recognized Dahl's storytelling abilities and sent the story to the Saturday Evening Post as Dahl had written it. The Post published the story ("A Piece of Cake") under the title "Shot Down Over Libya" in August 1942. Dahl's first book, The Gremlins, was based on RAF lore, and appeared in 1943. Disney purchased the movie rights, and although Dahl spent time working on a screenplay, the film was never made.



The Gremlins: From the Walt Disney Production

by Roald Dahl 

The Gremlins, Roald Dahl

New York: Random House, 1943. First edition. Hardcover. Slim quarto [28.5 cm] Color illustrated boards. Rubbing to the head and foot of the boards. Contemporary gift inscription on the front free endpaper. About very good in like jacket. Restoration to jacket. Faint ghost impressions to the panel. $1.00 price on front flap. A Royal Air Force Story. A first edition of Dahl's first book. Dahl's story emphasizes the hazards of being in the Royal Air Force.

Offered by Ken Sanders Rare Books.



After the war, Dahl left the RAF and became a full-time writer, publishing adult stories in magazines like Collier's, Harper's, and The New Yorker, while publishing his considerably more-famous children's books. In the 1960s and '70s he became a busy screenwriter and occasional television presenter. Among his screenplays were the James Bond film "You Only Live Twice" (1967), "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (1968) and, of course, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" (1971).


Here are some of the highlights of signed, first edition, or rare books by Roald Dahl currently offered by ABAA members:



The Witches (Signed Limited Edition)

by Roald Dahl (Illustrations by Quentin Blake)

The Witches, Roald Dahl (Signed, Limited Edition)
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983. First edition and first printing. Hardcover. Number 179 from a limited edition of only 300 copies. A children's book from the author of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "James and The Giant Peach." Features illustrations by Quentin Blake. The basis for a recent movie starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, and Chris Rock. A fine copy in blue cloth boards in a very near fine slipcase. No dust jacket as issued. Signed by both Dahl and Blake on the limitation page. Surprisingly uncommon despite the limitation size. 

Offered by Jeff Hirsch Books.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964. Hardcover. Near Fine/Near Fine. First edition, first issue. Spine lettering rubbed, and a little soiling on the boards, else near fine in a price-clipped, near fine dustwrapper with a couple of tiny tears and very slight toning. A subversive children's classic, and the basis for two memorable films, first starring Gene Wilder and later Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. A handsome copy. 

Offered by Between the Covers Rare Books.


The Twits

by Roald Dahl (Illustrations by Quentin Blake)

The Twits, Roald Dahl, First Edition, Inscribed
London: Jonathan Cape, 1980 Illustrated by Quentin Blake. First edition, first printing. Inscribed by Dahl on front free endpaper: "To / Amanda / Love / Roald Dahl / 1980 / [flourish]". Publisher's original red cloth with titles in gilt to spine; original cream-colored dust jacket with Blake illustrations to front and rear panels, lettered in red and black. Two light creases to front board, else fine book; about fine unclipped dust jacket, with just some light fading to spine. Overall, a lovely copy. The Twits is a darkly humorous children's story that centers around a horrid married couple. The two, Mr. and Mrs. Twit, despise each other and engage in a series of abusive pranks against one another involving a glass eye, worms, and balloons. The two get their comeuppance when a group of monkeys called Muggle-Wumps glue the Twits' furniture to the ceiling, making them think that they are upside down. The Twits is a Roald Dahl classic, featuring two of his nastiest villains. The book was listed as number 81 in the BBC's The Big Read, a United Kingdom-wide survey to determine the 200 best-loved books. Amazingly, nine of Dahl's books made the list.. Signed by Author. First Edition. Hard Cover. Fine/Dust Jacket Included.

Offered by B&B Rare Books.


Fantastic Mr. Fox.

by Roald Dahl

Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl

NY: Knopf. Very Good in Very Good dust jacket. 1970. Hardcover. 039480497X . Made into the 2009 stop-motion animated film by Wes Anderson. Stated first (American) edition. Two light stains on front board, else very good in a very good (age darkened) dust jacket. 62 pages.

Offered by Grendel Books.









by Roald Dahl

The BFG, Roald Dahl, First Edition

London: Jonathan Cape, 1982. Hardcover. Fine/Fine. First edition. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. Fine in a fine dust jacket. A very nice copy.

Offered by Between the Covers Rare Books.


Roald Dahl, My Uncle Oswald

My Uncle Oswald (First edition)

New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Very Good+ in Fine dust jacket. 1980. First Edition; First Printing. 1/4 Cloth. 0394510119 . A Very Good+ first printing of the first edition that is soiled and sunned in a Fine dust-jacket.

Offered by Books Tell You Why, Inc.


Dirty Beasts

by Roald Dahl

Dirty Beasts

New York, New York, U.S.A.: Viking Childrens Books, 1986. 5th or later Edition. Soft cover. Near Fine/No Jacket. Near fine in stiff pictorial wrappers. SIGNED by Dahl on the inside of the front cover. First Edition, thus, with illustrations by Quentin Blake. Very slight soiling on the covers; else fine. We will provide a certificate of authenticity for this item. 

Offered by Bookbid.




** This article was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to feature new books.


Please note: all items listed by ABAA members are unique copies. While we make every effort to replace featured items that sell after an article goes live, you may encounter some 404 errors ("page not found"). We apologize for the disappointment, and encorage you to search our site for other copies of the title in question.



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