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Roald Dahl

When Roald Dahl said, "I am an old man full of metal," he wasn't kidding around. "The head of my femur (that's the large round bone of the hip joint) has been sawn off on both sides and a fearsome stainless-steel spike with a ball on top has been hammered into the hollow of my thighbone and glued into place."

"What on earth, you will ask, has all this got to do with writing books for children? Quite a lot and I'll tell you why. It turns the body into a rickety structure and a rickety structure is no good for climbing trees or going for long walks. It prefers to be sitting comfortably in an armchair with a writing board on the lap and the feet resting on a suitcase. Thus it encourages my work and the only work I know is writing books."

Roald Dahl was born in Wales in 1916 and educated in English boarding schools from the age of nine until twenty. During World War II, he was a Royal Air Force fighter pilot in North Africa and Greece. When his active duty was completed, he was transferred to Washington, D.C., where he was asked to write about some of his adventures. "A Piece of Cake," his first published work, was an account of a fighter plane crashing in Libya. His first piece of fiction was called "The Gremlins," a story about little creatures who make trouble for the Royal Air Force by drilling holes in the planes and wreaking general havoc.

Fifteen years later, Roald Dahl found himself telling bedtime stories to his children over and over again, and those were the basis for James and the Giant Peach, his first published children's novel. After that came Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to be followed by many others, including The BFG, The Witches, and Matilda.

Every book of Roald Dahl's was written in a little brick hut in the apple orchard about two hundred yards away from his home. He wrote them all in pencil ("I never could type"), sometimes with an old sleeping bag wrapped around him, since there was only a paraffin stove to heat the drafty hut. "When I am up here," he said, "I see only the paper I am writing on, and my mind is far away with Willy Wonka or James or Mr. Fox or Danny or whatever else I am trying to cook up. The room itself is of no consequence. It is out of focus, a place for dreaming and floating and whistling in the wind."

Things that Roald Dahl wrote about himself:

I have a passion for paintings and have collected them for many years.

I make good orange marmalade.

I breed orchids and am a keen gardener.

I eat lots of chocolate.

The only dish I have never eaten is tripe.

Beethoven is wonderful.

Pop singers are horrible.

I would like to have been a good doctor.

I have had eight major operations, three on the hips, five on the spine, and countless smaller ones.

Kindness is more important than piety.

I wish my dog could talk to me.

More can be learned about Roald Dahl in his autobiographical Boy: Tales of Childhood and Going Solo, as well as in the chapter called "Lucky Break" in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More. Roald Dahl died in 1990 at the age of seventy-four. Although the world lost one of its most beloved authors, what he has left behind is a rich library of wonderful tales for children of today and tomorrow to discover and enjoy.


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Roger Daniels

Roger Daniels, author of Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II, is a renowned expert on immigration, consultant to PBS and the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island, and expert witness on Japanese-American internment.


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Dante

Dante Alighieri, or simply Dante (1265 – 1321), was an Italian poet from Florence. His central work, the Divina Commedia (originally called "Commedia" and later called "Divina" (divine) by Boccaccio hence "Divina Commedia"), is considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature.


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Edwidge Danticat

Alejo Carpentier was born in Havana in 1904. He lived for many years in France and Venezuela but returned to Cuba after the revolution. One of the major Latin American writers of this century, he is the author of The Lost Steps, Explosion in a Cathedral, and The Chase. He died in Paris in 1980.


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John Darnton

John Darnton, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the George Polk Award for his journalism, is culture editor for The New York Times and the author of two novels, The Experiment and Neanderthal. He lives in New York.


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Dr. Natalie Zemon Davis

Natalie Zemon Davis is Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. Her books include Slaves on Screen: Film and Historical Vision and Woman on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives. She lives in Toronto, Canada


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Harriet de Onís

Alejo Carpentier was born in Havana in 1904. He lived for many years in France and Venezuela but returned to Cuba after the revolution. One of the major Latin American writers of this century, he is the author of The Lost Steps, Explosion in a Cathedral, and The Chase. He died in Paris in 1980.


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Tatiana de Rosnay

TATIANA DE ROSNAY is the author of ten novels, including the New York Times bestselling novel Sarah’s Key, an international sensation with over 4 million copies sold in thirty-five countries worldwide that has now been made into a major film to be released in Spring, 2011. Together with Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer, and Stieg Larsson, she was named one of the top ten fiction writers in Europe in 2009.  Tatiana lives with her husband and two children in Paris, where she is at work on her next novel.


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Thomas de Zengotita

Thomas de Zengotita is a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine and holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University. He teaches at the Dalton School and at the Draper Graduate Program at New York University.


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John Demos

William Cronon is the Frederick Jackson Turner Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin--Madison. His book Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West won the Bancroft Prize in 1992.


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Dickson Despommier

Dr. Dickson Despommier spent thirty eight years as a professor of microbiology and public health in environmental health sciences at Columbia, where he has won the Best Teacher award six times, and received the national 2003 American Medical Student Association Golden Apple Award for teaching. His work on vertical farms has been featured on such top national media as BBC, French National television, CNN, The Colbert Report, and The Tonight Show, as well as in full-length articles in The New York Times, Time Magazine, Scientific American, and The Washington Post. He spoke at the TED Conference, Pop!Tech and the World Science Festival and has been invited by the governments of China, India, Mexico, Jordan, Brazil, Canada, and Korea to work on environmental problems. He has been invited to speak at numerous national and international professional annual meetings as a keynote speaker, and at universities, including Harvard and MIT. He is one of the visionaries featured at the Chicago Museum of Science and Technology. Despommier lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey.


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Michael Dewell

Federico García Lorca was born in 1898 in Fuente Vaqueros, a few miles outside Granada in the province of Andalusia, southern Spain. From an early age he was fascinated by Spain's mixed heritage, adapting its ancient folk songs, ballads, lullabies, and flamenco music into poems and plays. By the age of thirty, he had published five books of poems, culminating in 1928 with Gypsy Ballads, which brought him far-reaching fame. In 1929-30 he studied in New York City, where he wrote the poems—among his most socially engaging and compelling—that were to be published posthumously as Poet in New York. Upon returning to Spain he devoted much of his attention to theater, "the poetry which rises from the page . . . and becomes human." In 1936, at the outset of the Spanish Civil War, he was shot to death by anti-Republican rebels in Franco's army, and his books were banned and destroyed.

Christopher Maurer, the editor of García Lorca's Selected Verse, Poet in New York, and other works, is the author of numerous books and articles on Spanish poetry. He is head of the Department of Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese at the University of Illinois in Chicago

Michael Dewell, a graduate of Yale University and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, was until his death in 1994 the president of the National Repertory Theatre Foundation, for which he produced a wide range of works, from Euripides to Arthur Miller. NRT has toured the United States, played on Broadway, and won many awards, including a special Tony for distinguished contribution to the American theater. Dewell also wrote many articles on theater.

Carmen Zapata is president of the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts, a Hispanic-American theater in Los Angeles, which has played on tour throughout the United States and at theater festivals in Colombia, Spain, and Mexico. She has produced more than sixty plays for BFA, in English and in Spanish. Most widely known as a leading actress in American films and television, she was knighted by King Juan Carlos of Spain in 1990 and received California's Governor's Award for Achievement in the Arts in 1991.


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Joan Didion

Joan Didion is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, as well as several screenplays written with her late husband, John Gregory Dunne. She lives in New York City.


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Jenny Diski

JENNY DISKI is the author of eight novels and two books of travel/memoir. Her journalism appears regularly in The London Review of Books.


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Displaying 1-15 of 23