UK celebrates Roald Dahl Day
13th September 2012 - 11:11am
Dozens of events are taking place around the UK to mark Roald Dahl Day, an annual celebration of the life and work of one of the world's most beloved children's authors.
Dahl produced some of the most memorable children's books ever written, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and Danny the Champion of the World, and each year on September 13th – his birthday – a series of events are held to honour his contribution to literature.
This year the major focus is on The BFG, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012, and to mark the occasion young people across the UK are taking part in fancy dress competitions and readings of the novel in schools, libraries and community centres.
In addition, the Royal Shakespeare Company is releasing 400,000 more tickets for the acclaimed stage production of Matilda the Musical, which scooped a record seven gongs at this year's Olivier Awards.
Former Children's Laureate Michael Rosen has also written The Fantastic Mr Dahl, which is published today and will give readers an insight into the life of the man behind tales such as James and the Giant Peach, The Witches and George's Marvellous Medicine.
Illustrated by Dahl's long-time collaborator Quentin Blake, the book includes previously unpublished letters written by Dahl in his formative years, which shed light on the inspiration behind some of his most famous characters - including the rogue trader Matilda's dad was based on.
'It is the first time that most of the letters have ever been in print. I thought it would be interesting for children to see how the man who wrote Matilda and The Twits was writing when he was their age or a bit older,' Rosen explained to the BBC.
The author will also be reading excerpts from the book at a special event at the National Theatre today and signing copies afterward.
Meanwhile, next week will see the launch of the Puffin Virtually Live event, an online experience that will feature Blake drawing live and discussing the new book with Rosen, while viewers will also be taken behind the scenes at the Roald Dahl Museum and Storytelling Centre.
The celebrations will be capped off by the Dahlicious Dress-Up Day on Friday September 28th, in aid of Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity, which will see youngsters across the UK encouraged to dress up in imaginative, Dahl-inspired costumes to raise money to help seriously ill and disabled children.