THE LEGACY OF ROALD DAHL
The Roald Dahl museum and Story Centre recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. TOM HERBERT takes a look at the author’s ongoing legacy in the village he called home, Great Missenden
ROALD Dahl would turn 100 next year and people up and down the country will be celebrating what would have been his centenary.
Born in Cardiff, he moved across the Atlantic to live in Manhattan, tan, New York before settling in Greatreat Missenden for 36 years until his death in 1990.
After his passing the community, led by his wife Liccy, rallied round to support t the legacy of one of the village’s most famous citizens and after years of fundraising opened the Roald Dahl Museumum and Story Centre in the High Street in 2005.
It is a place where a collection tion of his manuscripts, photographs and letters all come together under er one roof and people from all over the world come to the museum to see the legacy of one of the most famous children’s authors ever.
His wife still lives in the house and the hut that he used to write in at the bottom of his garden is still there where, according to legend, he only ever used a pencil and yellow paper.
Some of his most famous characters and places were based on his life in Great Missenden - the BFG was allegedly based on a really tall man who lived in Missenden, the library Matilda visited was based on Missenden library and the woodland in Danny and the Champion of the World was based on Phasels Wood near Chesham.
The museum celebrated its 10th anniversary recently, throwing a huge party to celebrate and had some of his most famous creations brought to life, characters as memorable as Miss Trunchbull and Bruce Bogtrotter.
District councillor Seb Berry says having the museum in your village is something to be immensely proud of.
“The museum has been a hugely positive addition to the village since it opened,” said Mr Berry. “It’s noticeably increasing the number of visitors to the village, which is a good thing for the local economy and the success of high street businesses, and I will be working closely with the new director in their plans for their celebrations next year.”
Mr Berry was keen to stress the positive impact the museum has had on local tourism, with ‘70,000 people visiting the village every year, many of whom otherwise wouldn’t have come here’.
He also said that to have such an internationally famous and much loved author have so many ties in your village is remarkable.
Mr Berry said: “The Dahl effect on the whole village has been extremely positive.”
He added: “Clearly it’s special that local children are growing up in a village environment where they have got this very good nationally acclaimed facility right on their doorstep, so that’s a very positive influence on local children and schools as well.”
Aylesbury Vale District Council recently celebrated its own Roald Dahl festival.
Angela Macpherson, cabinet member for leisure, communities and civic amenities said: “We’re right to be proud of Roald Dahl’s links with this area, and to have found such a wonderful way to celebrate his words. As well as a fun day out for Vale families, it also encourages children to discover Roald Dahl’s books for themselves, and hopefully start a lifelong love of reading.”
The museum in Great Missenden welcomes thousands of visitors a year giving an insight into the wonderful world of Roald Dahl, inset, and his characters such as Willy Wonka from Charlies and the Chocolate Factory as illustrated by Quentin Blake, below