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11 Roald Dahl Stories NOT For Children

Dahl's prolific career resulted in more yarns for adults than children. These included stories about collecting scientists' sperm, stealing someone's skin, and a secret wife swap. No, really.

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My Uncle Oswald

Penguin Publishing

Dahl's only critically successful novel, My Uncle Oswald concerns a fictional Lothario, "the greatest fornicator of all time," with a shagtastic history of conquests stretching across the globe. In particular, it recounts his scheme to steal sperm from famous men, with the help of a beautiful assistant and a very sexy beetle.

"Shot Down Over Libya" and "A Piece of Cake"

Roald Dahl / Via Going Solo

These two stories retell the same event: Dahl's real-life airplane crash over the Libyan desert during the Second World War. Both, however, do so with a veneer of fiction. "Shot Down Over Libya" was produced specifically as war propaganda, while "A Piece of Cake", written much later, also suggests Dahl was crashed due to enemy fire. In fact he ran out of fuel after confusing directions, something he clarified in his autobiography Going Solo.

"Lamb to the Slaughter"

Keven Law / Via

Supposedly written after a suggestion from Ian Fleming (yes, that Ian Fleming), this tightly written tale concerns mother-to-be Mary Maloney's unique and delicious method for disposing of her murder weapon. Mmm.

"The Visitor" and "Bitch"

Peter Harrington Books / Via

Written in 1974 for Playboy Magazine, "The Visitor" and "Bitch" are the first and only other appearances of Uncle Oswald. In "The Visitor" Oswald attempts to seduce the wife - and/or daughter, he's not picky - of his Syrian host. (Remember, Dahl himself served as an RAF pilot in Syria during WWII.) It ends with one of the best eerie twists Dahl every wrote and presents a perfect example of Dahl's dark humour.

Later, in "Bitch", Oswald's scientist friend Biotte discovers a scent that turns men into uncontrollable sexual giants (women, it seems, are unaffected). Oswald then creates a plan to embarrass the President at a dinner for the Daughters of the American Revolution. The idea of a supremely powerful sex drug would come up later in My Uncle Oswald. The two stories were collected with "The Last Act" and "The Great Switcheroo", both also from Playboy, into Switch Bitch.


Penguin Teenage Fiction / Via

When a man asks for a tattoo in return for helping a talented artist, he can't foresee how this will change is life. Warning: This story will make sure you never get a good tattoo ever again. Or look at art. Or feel comfortable with humanity. Urgh urgh urgh urgh. It's brilliant.

"The Last Act"

Playboy Magazine / Via

One of the grimmest tales Dahl ever wrote, the plot concerns a gynecologist seeking revenge on the woman he once loved. Where Dahl's other Playboy stories seek to blend sex and humour, this is full of bodily horror and the signature twist leaves the villain of the piece unpunished, unusual for Dahl. Fans still speculate as to whether the tragedies in Dahl's own life at the time contributed to this sick, painful story.


Quentin Blake

Though the first volume of Dahl's autobiography is about his childhood, it doesn't fit neatly with his books for children (though it is, like his children's books, illustrated by Quentin Blake.) While the characters he writes are fit for The Twits or The Witches, his accounts of the corporal punishment he received at school are true. Still, one anecdote involving a mouse in a sweet shop will make anyone, kid or adult, crow with laughter.

"Dip in the Pool", "Man from the South," and "Poison"

Alfred Hitchcock Presents / Via

Finally, if you prefer your fables filmed, these chilling and gruesome stories were all adapted for television by Alfred Hitchcock. Three other Dahl stories made it onto the small screen, including "Lamb to the Slaughter", which Hitchcock directed himself.

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