Phenomenal grouping of three ALSs signed “Roald” or “Roald Dahl,” six total pages, ranging in size from 8 x 10 to 8.25 x 10.5, dated between 1967 and 1971. Each addressed to Blanche Campbell, the owner of Campbell’s Bookstore in Los Angeles. The earliest letter, June 9, 1967, in part: “It doesn't look as though either Pat or I will be in L.A. on November 16—though one never knows. Both of us would do anything we could for U.C.L.A. Medical Center, as you must know...There is much talk about making Charlie into a T.V. Serial. Or a big musical film. The former seems the most likely. Chitty Bang Bang goes before the cameras in 4 weeks. Dick van Dyke is here and so is everyone else, and things are hotting up for the usual hectic pitch. My silly James Bond film opens here before the Queen next Monday, 12th, and I think at Grauman’s Chinese on the 14th.”
The second letter, January 10, 1968, in part: “I’ve been having a rough time. Just got out of hospital. Two spinal operations for a massive disc that paralyzed the left leg. Much better now and I’m beginning to walk again and to get back into shape. One good thing—it stopped me writing movie scripts. When I start again, I’m going to try to do either stories or another children’s book. Charlie & James were published in England 4 weeks before Christmas. Both have been the juvenile best sellers since then. Charlie has sold 12,000 in 3 weeks, and James about 8000. I must try to write another—if only I can gather the energy.”
The last letter, October 17, 1971, in part: "I have lost one of my valuable books, a Rhyming Dictionary which I’m sure I must have bought in America. There are lots of Rhyming Dictionaries over here, but all are too complicated for me. The one I’m after is really very simple and lists all the words that rhyme with a certain sound in one place, in four (I think) columns across the page, something like this: ED / bed bred shed fountainhead / dead bread stead quadruped / fed tread embed etc. / sled said well-fed etc…The film of Charlie was pretty poor, wasn’t it? Those ghastly Oompa-Loompas—seven dirty old dwarfs—were horrible. I get nightmares about them…I am trying at last, as a result of a good deal of pressure from kids, to do a sequel to ‘Charlie.’ So far it’s coming out a bit odd, but that doesn’t worry me. What does worry me is where the hell we go when I finish the next chapter.” In overall fine condition, with staple holes to the upper left corner of each letter. Accompanied by a copy of a letter from Campbell to Mary Poppins author P. L. Travers, in which she explains that Dahl “was a frequent visitor to our Children’s Dept. when his wife was recuperating at the UCLA Medical Center which is right across the street from our store. He kept us supplied with autographed copies of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
Dahl’s fourth and most celebrated book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was first published in America by Alfred A. Knopf in January 1964, and then in the United Kingdom by George Allen & Unwin eleven months later. Inspired by Dahl’s schoolboy experience with England’s competitive chocolate industry during the 1920s, the story centers around 11-year-old Charlie Bucket and his adventures within the highly secretive chocolate factory of Willy Wonka. These letters date to a four-year period of both productivity and hardship for Dahl and his wife, actress Patricia Neal, the latter, as discerned from the Campbell-Travers missive, nearly fully recovered from three burst cerebral aneurysms while pregnant with their daughter, Lucy. In spite of his own physical ailments, Dahl created with constancy, and gives mention to the status of two movie scripts: You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, both of which being Ian Fleming adaptations. The final letter sheds light on his own much-publicized displeasure with Mel Stuart’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, as well as the progress of the highly anticipated sequel; so disappointed was Dahl was that he forbade any more film versions to be made during his lifetime. An exceptional collection of handwritten letters, each offering superb content relative to his most recognizable novel.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.