Review of ‘Teller of the Unexpected: The Life of Roald Dahl’ by Matthew Dennison

This concise, unbiased biography of Roald Dahl, one of the most popular children’s authors of all time, is a good read and impeccably researched. It doesn’t go into a lot of detail about individual books, but is an overview of his life. I enjoyed the book, despite the author Matthew Dennison’s tendency to use complicated words when simple language would do. It was first published in 2022, before the Puffin ‘re-writes’ controversy, which no doubt would have been mentioned.

Teller of the Unexpected, showing Roald Dahl and a typewriter.

The biography is in chronological order, with some photographs included. There is a focus on the turning points in Dahl’s life and how they affected his behaviour and influenced his writing. He is presented as a rather contradictory person, a forceful character and not especially literary. I feel that this book provides a valuable insight into Dahl and it has the right level of detail for an introductory biography, but may be disappointing for readers who want a more thorough exploration.

Thank you to the publisher Head of Zeus for the e-book via NetGalley. The paperback edition will be published on 3rd August.

4 thoughts on “Review of ‘Teller of the Unexpected: The Life of Roald Dahl’ by Matthew Dennison”

    1. Thanks! I already knew a little about his life, so this was a good introduction to the turning points in his life and career, providing some interesting context to his books.

  1. Great review. I’ve just recieved this book in hardback too, so will be reading and seeing how interesting it is. I do wonder if the new paperback edition would cover the puffin rewriting issues though,or whether they plan to just leave that out.

    1. Thanks! I hope you enjoy the read. I think the edition I have from NetGalley must be the paperback one.

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