Wes Anderson's new movie, Fantastic Mr. Fox opens nation-wide this Thanksgiving and has been praised for its particular sense of style, parts of which are based on the home, clothes, and fetishes of the book's author, Roald Dahl. Dahl, who died in 1990, was an intriguing and contradictory figure whose passions ranged from chocolate Crunchie bars to Matisse and Beethoven.
The Roald Dahl Museum and official website both offer a peek into the personality of the famous children's book author, whose masterpieces include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, George's Marvelous Medicine, Matilda, the Witches, and many more. According to information gathered from interviews and writings, Dahl's tastes were both high and low, and might best be described as "eclectic."
- Gipsy House was Dahl's home from 1960 until his death. Located in the countryside of Buckinghamshire, England, it's a traditional cottage with extensive gardens and a "Gipsy Caravan," painted in bright red and blue, installed in the backyard. Dahl also had a writing hut, where he worked nearly every day. It was a messy space furnished with a hand-me-down wingchair from his mother, photos pinned to the walls, and odd knick knacks.
- Orchids were Dahl's favorite flower. "Some people like tomatoes, I like orchids," he said. "Partly because of their beauty, partly because they are tricky to grow - it takes two years before any buds appear, and the flowers are very small." He was an avid gardener.
- Matisse was one of Dahl's favorite artists, along with Bonnard, Renoir, Degas, and others. "Even when I couldn't afford anything, I'd sell a story to the New Yorker and then go straight out and buy a picture," he remembered.
- Chocolate candy bars and caviar were two of his great loves. Of the 1930s, he said, "In the seven years of this glorious and golden decade, all the great classic chocolates were invented: the Cruncie, the Whole-Nut Bar, the Mars Bar, the Black Magic Assortment, Tiffin, Caramello, Kit Kat, Rolo, and Smarties. In music the equivalent would be the golden age when compositions by Bach and Mozart and Beethoven were given to us."
- Yellow was Dahl's favorite color. He loved classical music, and named Beethoven his favorite composer. One of the authors he most admired was Ernest Hemingway, a friend and colleague. Dahl called him "a great American writer" and studied his work as a young author.
Photos: Roald Dahl photo from Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Van Vechten Collection, reproduction number LOT 12735, no. 273. via Wikimedia Commons (1), Roald Dahl Museum (2), Architectural Digest Celebrity Homes 2, 1980 (3), Lily Gahagan (4), The Red Studio by Henri Matisse (5), Pantone (6), Old Man and the Sea Book Cover via Wikipedia (7), Bust of Beethoven via Wikipedia (8), mrschnips licensed under Creative Commons (9), Adambro licensed via Wikimedia Commons (10)