I am having a lovely time here. We play football every day here. The beds have no springs . . .'
So begins the first letter that a nine-year-old Roald Dahl penned to his mother, Sofie Magdalene, under the watchful eye of his boarding-school headmaster. For most of his life, Roald Dahl would continue to write weekly letters to his mother, chronicling his adventures, frustrations and opinions, from the delights of childhood to the excitements of flying as a World War II fighter pilot and the thrill of meeting top politicians and movie stars during his time as a diplomat and spy in Washington. And, unbeknown to Roald, his mother lovingly kept every single one of them.
Sofie was, in many ways, Roald's first reader. It was she who encouraged him to tell stories and nourished his desire to fabricate, exaggerate and entertain. Reading these letters, you can see Roald practicing his craft, developing the dark sense of humour and fantastical imagination that would later produce such timeless tales as The BFG, Matilda, Fantastic Mr Fox and The Witches.
The letters in Love from Boy are littered with jokes and madcap observations; sometimes serious, sometimes tender, and often outrageous. To eavesdrop on a son's letters to his mother is to witness Roald Dahl turning from a boy to a man, and finally becoming a writer.
Roald Dahl was a spy, ace fighter-pilot, chocolate historian and medical inventor. He was also the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG and many more brilliant stories. He remains the world's number one storyteller.
Donald Sturrock grew up in England and South America. After leaving university he joined the BBC, where he wrote and produced television documentaries, including one about Roald Dahl. Since leaving the corporation, he has translated plays and written five opera librettos. He is the author of critically acclaimed biography of Roald Dahl, Storyteller, which was longlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize 2011 and won the Spear's Book Award for Biography 2011.