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Welcome to the first part of our Literary Travel Series, where we’ll feature some amazing places that have been written about by famous authors, or at least that influenced their work.

Today I’d like to highlight my very favorite writer: Roald Dahl. I don’t know how many times I’ve read The Witches or Matilda or even his short stories, but judging from my stack of yellowed books with the covers falling off, it’s quite a lot.

Let’s take a look at places Dahl featured in his works, and how they followed his own travels!

“Small English Villages” and “Great Towns”

English countryside - Roald Dahl's travels and how they influenced his writing - Frayed Passport

English countryside – Photo by Ambitious Creative Co. – Rick Barrett on Unsplash

This one isn’t quite specific—Roald Dahl wrote a lot about small English villages and great towns without using exact names. You’ll find a lot of his work for younger audiences tend to be less specific in their locations, which allow the children reading his books to imagine themselves right there with their hero.

Seen in:

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Matilda
  • Danny the Champion of the World
  • The Mildenhall Treasure
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox

Norway

Norway - Roald Dahl's travels and how they influenced his writing - Frayed Passport

Scenic Norway – Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Dahl was born in Wales of Norwegian parents, and his books often feature fantastical elements often seen in Scandinavian folklore and legends—particularly the BFG, a giant that lives in a fantastical land of mountains, caves, and dreams and, unlike his counterparts, eats veggies rather than children. He even wears Norwegian sandals!

Featured in:

  • The Witches
  • My Uncle Oswald
  • Boy: Tales of Childhood
  • The BFG
  • The Minpins

London

London - Roald Dahl's travels and how they influenced his writing - Frayed Passport

London – Photo by Heidi Fin on Unsplash

A great number of Dahl’s stories take place in London, or at least mention it. And if you’re a fan, you can always visit the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre just outside of the city.

Seen in:

  • The BFG
  • The Hitchhiker
  • Galloping Foxley
  • My Uncle Oswald
  • James and the Giant Peach

United States

Central Park - Roald Dahl's travels and how they influenced his writing - Frayed Passport

Central Park – Photo by Fabio Fistarol on Unsplash

Roald Dahl was a world traveler; he was educated in England, employed later by the Shell Oil Company in East Africa, served in the RAF during the Second World War, and wrote short stories during his employment at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.

He features the U.S. in his writing occasionally—particularly New York City, where he married actress Patricia Neal in 1953.

Seen in:

  • James and the Giant Peach
  • Way Out (TV series)
  • My Uncle Oswald

East Africa

Mombasa - Roald Dahl's travels and how they influenced his writing - Frayed Passport

Mombasa – Photo by Harshil Gudka on Unsplash

In the mid-1930s, Dahl was employed by the Shell Oil Company in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania and in Mombasa, Kenya. As WWII loomed, he traveled to Nairobi to enlist in the RAF, and had an incredible career as a fighter ace. His stories that feature East Africa often describe the exotic animals he saw while living there, or serve as autobiographies of his career.

Featured in:

  • An African Story
  • The Gremlins
  • The Enormous Crocodile
  • Over to You: Ten Stories of Flyers and Flying

About the Author: Sarah Stone

Sarah Stone: As the managing director of Frayed Passport, my goal is to help you build a lifestyle that lets you travel the world whenever you want and however long you want, and not worry about where your next paycheck will come from. I've been to 20+ countries and five continents, lived for years as a full-time digital nomad, and have worked completely remotely since 2013. If you would like to share your story with our community, or partner with Frayed Passport, get in touch with me at sarah@frayedpassport.com!

Featured image via Unsplash.

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