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Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl [Kindle Edition]

Donald Sturrock
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Amazon Review

“It’s a measure of the greatness of this biography that Sturrock is able to get behind these fantasies and exaggerations without losing respect or sympathy for Dahl….There are big gaps between Dahl’s masterpieces….a real joy of this book is that they show just how much work went into those slim volumes, and how much depended on a series of brilliant editors” The Times by Frank Cottrell Boyce

“This is his first biography and it is hard to see how he could have done it better. At all times he is able to view Dahl from within and without - as he saw himself and as others saw him – and to explain the divide... Dahl’s life is a biographer’s dream…full of drama, both comical and romantic and, sometimes, desperately tragic… For all his faults... there was something magnificently bullish about Roald Dahl, a childlike refusal to accept the world as it was. Donald Sturrock captures this side of him beautifully, so much so that I finished STORYTELLER feeling... his was a heroic life” Mail on Sunday by Craig Brown

”Pig-headed, domineering, mendacious, boastful, foul-mouthed, coarse, boorish--as you tick off the adjectives that describe Roald Dahl, the chances of a biographer coming up with a winning portrait seem slim. Yet Donald Sturrock has managed it with zest and aplomb. What shines out from almost every page of this intimately informed biography is Dahl’s vitality, courage and passion for life…What he was was vivid and dynamic, and this vivid, dynamic book gives you the illusion that you knew him”. Sunday Times by John Carey

”It’s hard to imagine anyone do a better job on him than Donald Sturrock… consistently shrewd, well able to embrace his subject’s many contradictions, generally sympathetic and yet never blind to Dahl’s less attractive side… it’s exemplary” Daily Mail by John Preston


‘[A] superb biography…a hugely readable portrait that examines vividly and sympathetically the life and work of a difficult, complex author who was adored by millions of children, loathed by many adults, and was possibly a genius’ Sunday Telegraph

‘A truly magnificent biography…a masterly account’ A.N.Wilson

‘Donald Sturrock [is] a creative and sensitive biographer…minutely researched, Storyteller does Dahl the service, as Dahl did for some of his characters, of revealing the human in the monstrous’ Times Literary Supplement

‘It’s a measure of the greatness of this biography that Sturrock is able to get behind these fantasies and exaggerations without losing respect or sympathy for Dahl…sometimes the very nature of Sturrock’s primary sources is enough to stop you in your tracks’ The Times

‘A tremendously assured piece of work…Deftly, and with great acuity, [Sturrock] manages to embrace Dahl’s numerous contradictions’ Spectator

‘Sturrock has done a fine job of memorialising this extraordinary curmudgeon’ Evening Standard

‘This warts-and-all biography brings [Dahl] vividly to life’ Sunday Express

‘Storyteller is a real liability if you have anything resembling a busy schedule. It hooks you from its opening sentence and before you know it you're up to your armpits in stories about spies and foxes and movie stars and you don't want to tear yourself away. As engrossing as only the best biographies can be.’ Tom Shone

‘The person I met when I met Roald Dahl comes through vividly on the pages of Storyteller. Dahl told me that he was generally disappointed in what people wrote about him, but I believe he would have appreciated Donald Sturrock's beautifully written book.’ Charlotte Chandler

‘Irresistible. I thought I knew quite a lot about Roald Dahl, but now I know much much more. Donald Sturrock's book lucidly describes a complicated life and relates it to the richness of Dahl's storytelling.’ Quentin Blake, illustrator

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1429 KB
  • Print Length: 675 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0007254768
  • Publisher: HarperPress (2 Sept. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0045U9HM8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #125,078 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Authoritative ROALD DAHL Biography 14 Sept. 2010
Donald Sturrock has penned an immensely enjoyable and readable account of Roald Dahl's life. Comparisons with Jeremy Treglown's biography are inevitable, and the two books rarely differ in their telling of the earlier part of Dahl's life. To my mind, the key difference is that Sturrock has benefited from extensive access to the Dahl family's archives and so his portrait of Dahl's postwar career (until his marriage) is rather fuller than Treglown's, as is his account of the final years of Dahl's life.

This biography has a pleasing tendency to focus on unraveling Dahl's complex (and misunderstood) character using Dahl's archival sources, rather than Treglown's preponderance of 'non-Dahl' sources. Dahl seems to have been somewhat impenetrable to the outsider, and so Sturrock should be commended for the readability and clarity of his work.

Storyteller will become the definitive account of Roald Dahl's life. Some will argue that this being the 'official' biography makes it one-sided or unreliable, but the cooperation of the Dahl family undoubtedly strengthens the credibility of some of Sturrock's descriptions, whilst he is unafraid of highlighting Dahl's hypocrises, temper, lack of sentimentality alongside his talent for writing, his understanding of a child's mentality, his philanthropy and his role as a family man. All in all, a wonderful read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warts and all 6 Oct. 2010
By Brim
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Who doesn't like a good thick door-stop of a literary biography?

This is one an absorbing and a useful corrective to Dahl's own highly distorted, but entertaining, autobiographical 'Boy' and 'Going Solo'. As I understand it there was a lapse of 16 years between this biography being started, set aside and then picked up again by Stewart Thurrock who already knew Dahl well. In that time no doubt some witnesses to Dahl's life had passed on. Fortunately he managed to talk to Dahl's first wife, the oscar winning film star Patricia Neal before she herself passed away shortly before the book went to print.

News to me was Dahl's wartime and post-war 'sexploits' among the rich and famous in Washington DC and New York as was the 'curse' that his family, he thought, lived under. I was a little surprised that his involvement in Anglia TV's 'Tales of the Unexpected' merited barely two lines when for many of us it was our first introduction to the author. That niggle aside this book will remain Dahl's definitive biography. Buy it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and honest. 15 Oct. 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having recently taught some of Roald Dahl's work to Year 7 pupils, I was already interested before even opening the book. Dahl frequently comes across as flawed, but this is redeemed by other aspects of his personality, and I had no idea his life had been marred by such tragedies as are detailed here. The book held my attention, and, in my opinion, is very well written. To be recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Chaucer
This is a very good biography particularly as Sturrock has to strike a careful balance: Dahl is not an easy person to write about and he certainly offended people in his time. Also, Surrock does write this biography with the family's blessing as it were. This is a real strength of the book as he quotes much of Dahl's own words from letters to close friends and family and these are deftly inserted into the narrative. Sturrock does capture Dahl's idiosyncracies and contradictions well, brings him alive indeed and does take the reader into his magical world, an "incredible place." Much of this is very moving, particularly the end of the book. There is also much in here to interest a general reader as Dahl's writing seems a relatively small and private part of his life - he had such energy for other interests. Why not a five star review then you cry? It is overlong and I thought the quarrels with editors and publishers could have been slimmed down especially as I was never very sure who did what in publishing terms. This was not terribly interesting and didn't shed much additional light on Dahl's character after the intitial round of hostilities he carried out at first as then a similar pattern was repeated in future negotiations. I would have also liked a list of all the people mentioned in the book and who they were to Dahl because names would often be dropped in suddenly or after a long absence. A family tree would also have been useful so we could keep track of all the members of the family particularly as there were several generations of Dahls and different marriages. However, well worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Storyteller 27 April 2011
Roald Dahl was a complex man, at times generous and humorous and at others cantankerous and difficult to deal with and this book explores all these sides of his character and more.

Written with clarity and insight `Storyteller' shares will us Dahl's unique and fascinating life. From his early days at boarding school to his career with Shell, his time flying in the RAF during the second world war and the crash that damaged his spine to his time as air attache in Washington and minor daliance in espionage, his early adult short story career to his later beloved childrens fiction and all of this is recounted with a rich smattering of his rich and varied family life. In as open a way as possible this book shares it all.

This book was authorised by the Dahl family and was written with their full cooperation and their bravery has to be commended, as although the author obviously loves Dahl and his life, he in no way shy's away from the more unsavoury sides of his life. His various affairs are touched upon, as is his notorious grumpy character that made his publishers life hell and which ruined numerous relationships.

This has three photo plates of the assorted people mentioned in the book and these help you picture the time, people and places the book speaks of. This is an extremely sympathetic and well written biography that not only recounts the life of an exceptional writer, but it manage to keep you engrossed and fascinated throughout. Dahl's dedication to his art shines through on every page and whilst he may have been cantankerous and hard to deal with, his legacy is something we are all left with to cherish and enjoy.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant Read!!
Published 3 days ago by sarah waltom
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a another present
Published 24 days ago by robert neal
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good deal
Published 1 month ago by a.j.marston
5.0 out of 5 stars Ace biography
I shared a literary agent (Murray Pollinger) with Roald Dahl for several years and consequently approached Sturrock’s biography with high hopes and expectations of an interesting... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Herbie Brennan
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought this book was an excellent read. It gripped me from start to...
I thought this book was an excellent read. It gripped me from start to finish. Of course, it helps that the subject is a fascinating individual who lived a such an eventful and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by John L
4.0 out of 5 stars Storyteller The life of Roald Dahl
An enthralling read full of surprise and suspense but dragged a little towards the centre. An amazing character who gradually found his specialism in writing children's books.
Published 2 months ago by Nelson1
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story of an amazing literary talent
This book is gripping reading about the life of one of our most literary giants. Since reading Charlie and the Chocolate factory 40 years ago, I have been a huge fan of Dahl. Read more
Published 3 months ago by MR A J YEOMANS
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking read.
Cracking read.
Published 3 months ago by Damien K
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great insight to a great writer
Published 4 months ago by mrocky
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book which covers literally every single angle of this ...
Amazing book which covers literally every single angle of this most celebrated author. The honesty of the family shines through from the beginning which makes the story less... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Chris H.
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