Letter: Sources for Dahl

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The Independent Online
Sir: Christina Hardyment (Books, 12 March) is entitled to her opinions about Roald Dahl and about my biography of him. I would be grateful, though, if you would let me correct her suggestion that 'Dahl's best friends and closest relations' all refused to be interviewed by me.

As the book's preface makes clear, I talked at length not only to Dahl's first (although not his second) wife, but to the eldest and youngest of their four children; to the actress Annabella Power, who was extremely close to Dahl from the 1940s onwards; to his favourite illustrator, Quentin Blake, and to his publishers, both former and current, including Tom Maschler and Peter Mayer (who gave the address at his funeral).

I also interviewed - among scores of others, all listed - Dennis Pearl, who was one of Dahl's best friends from just after he left school in 1934 until his death, and who married into the immediate family. Mr Pearl read the book in draft and wrote to me: 'I think the depth and extent of your research quite remarkable.' He added that if the book is 'tough', this 'is surely what most intelligent readers would want'.



Enstone, Oxfordshire

14 March