Roald Dahl letter offering advice to student on children’s books sold at auction

A handwritten letter written by children’s author Roald Dahl which reveals his secrets to good storytelling has been sold at auction to a UK buyer for more than £2,000.

The letter, dated August 2 1989, which showcases the writer’s opinion of his own work and his determination to get children reading, was sold by Derbyshire-based Hansons Auctioneers.

It had been handed a guide price of £500-£800, but managed to fetch £2,200 from a buyer in the UK.

Librarian Christine Wotton said she wrote to Mr Dahl “speculatively” as a 20-year-old student as she was studying for a degree in literature and linguistics in the late 1980s.

Roald Dahl letter for sale
The letter fetched £2,200 at auction (Hansons Auctioneers/PA)

The letter she received back reads: “Never shelter children from the world… the ‘content’ of any children’s book is of no importance other than that it enthrals the child – and thus it teaches or seduces him or her to ‘like’ books and to become a fit reader – which is vital if that child is going to amount to anything in later life.

“The book-reading child will always outstrip the non-book-reading child in later life. There are very few messages in these books of mine.

“They are there simply to turn the child into a reader of books.

“Damn it all, they are mostly pure fantasy. Have you read the latest one, Matilda?

“It seems to have broken every sales record in the history of hardback publishing.”

It went under the hammer in Hansons’ specialist library auction at Bishton Hall in Staffordshire.

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Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “I think this was a case of Charlie and the amazing auction factory.

“Dahl was hugely talented and sadly missed. Nevertheless, his extraordinary imagination lives on thanks to his many books and the films they inspired.

“We’re thrilled for our client that this letter did well but not at all surprised.

“Dahl’s work has brought immense joy to people across the world for decades. It’s also helped countless children learn to read and appreciate books.”