If you’ve been reading this site long, you probably know by now that I’m a big fan of old letters. They’re a unique window into the mind of the public figures who wrote them, not to mention a novelty of a bygone era when people still passed each other notes through the mail and didn’t have internet porn and probably wore fancy hats on planes. Today’s note comes from Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, the Fantastic Mr. Fox, and about a billion other things. Apparently a group of students read his short story collection, “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More,” and sent him some questions about it.
This was Dahl’s response:
Hello handsome Mr. Johnson and all the clever children who wrote me such lovely letters. I am afraid I am not allowed to answer your questions about Henry Sugar.
There is an old woman in our village with a beard. It’s quite long and black. I asked her why she didn’t shave it off. She said, “If I did, nobody would notice me.”
There is a farmer near here who breeds white mice. He fries them in butter for his supper. “They’re very tasty,” he says.
With lots of love from
I never read that book, but I checked out the Wikipedia page, and as far as I know, the woman with a beard and the mouse-eater are just some random sh*t Roald Dahl came up with off the top of his head and not references to anything, which is pretty awesome. “To answer your question, no, I’m not allowed to answer your questions. But here’s a story about ladybeards.” Three paragraphs and not a single reference to Churchill or Dostoyevsky? James Toback thinks you’re doing it wrong.
Another thing to take away from this is that Roald Dahl clearly used two spaces after a period. So, the next time you hear someone ranting about how it’s one space after a period and always has been and who learned the other way, you can simply point to this letter and tell them to suck your wiener. Roald Dahl said so.