During Roald Dahl's last year at Repton, his mother asked him, "Would you like to go to Oxford or Cambridge when you leave school?" Back in those days it was not hard to get into either of these of great universities if you could pay. "No thank you," Roald said. "I would like to go straight from school to work for a company that will send me to far away places like Africa or China." There were no planes back then so they seemed far away and magical to him.
He went to work for the Shell Company in England. He enjoyed working. He decided that being a business man is better and easier than a writer. He had a regular routine, a fixed salary, and little original thinking to do. In a writer's life, you have to make your own hours and if he doesn't go, there's no one to scold him.
One day, when he was 20, one of the Shell directors wanted to see him. He said they were sending Roald to Egypt for a three year tour then a six months' leave. They would be sending him in a week. Roald did not want to go to Egypt. But the man was nice and said he could go to East Africa instead.
Dahl was 22 when he left. He took a ship called the SS Mantola. When he stepped on land in Mombasa, Africa, a person for the Shell Company was there to meet him. He told Dahl to go to Dar es Salaam in Tanganyika (now Tanzania).
One day, Dahl was ordered to stop his job and become a temporary army officer for a war that was going to happen (World War II). Soon after he was done, Dahl decided to join the war as a flyer of airplanes against the Germans.
When he went to the place where he would learn to be a pilot, the doctor who checked him said that six feet, six inches (which was his height) was not the ideal height for a flyer. But he was still allowed to be a flyer.
After a while, Roald was promoted to be a Pilot Officer. Once, Roald Dahl injured himself really badly. He was sent to the hospital and the doctor told him he couldn't fly an airplane again. When he got out of the hospital, he hated flying. Soon after, he decided to try to like flying. And he did.
He stopped fighting after a while. He went to Washington DC to make people aware of what the British and the Americans were doing in the war. In Washington DC, a famous British writer called CS Forester came to see Dahl. Forester wanted to fight in the war like Dahl but was to old. He wanted to write about Dahl's experiences to inspire people to support the war efforts. Forester had to leave before he was done writing and Dahl offered to finish it for him.
The story was published in a news paper. He enjoyed it so much that he wrote a story called The Gremlins, and sold it to Walt Disney who was going to make a movie of it. The movie was never finished, but it was made into a book that became popular.
Dahl started writing books for adults. In 1953, he married an actress named Patricia Neal. But he never forgot his love for writing books.