Roald Dahl's Marvellous Medicine

Tom Solomon

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ISBN: 9781781383391

Publication: September 13, 2016

In the USA? Buy the Paperback US edition
Most people know Roald Dahl as a famous writer of children’s books and adult short stories, but few are aware of his fascination with medicine. Right from his earliest days to the end of his life, Dahl was intrigued by what doctors do, and why they do it.

In this unique book, the award-winning science communicator Professor Tom Solomon, who looked after the nation’s favourite children’s author towards the end of his life, examines Dahl’s interest in everything medical. Taking examples from Dahl’s life, and illustrated with excerpts from his writing, the book uses Dahl as a starting point to explore some extraordinary areas of medical science. At the same time the book is peppered with anecdotes from Dahl’s late night hospital discussions with Solomon, which give new insights into this remarkable man’s thinking as his life came to an end.

Intimate and compelling, Roald Dahl's Marvellous Medicine will fundamentally change your understanding of some of the best-loved stories of childhood.

Tom Solomon is a doctor, world-leading researcher, and an award-winning science communicator. Nowadays, as a Professor of Neurological Science and Director of the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool, he confronts global health challenges such as Ebola and Zika virus, but in 1990 he was a junior doctor tasked with looking after Roald Dahl. He tweets @RunningMadProf.

About the Author




Chapter 1: The Witching Hour
Chapter 2: Prodding and Poking
Chapter 3: Into Africa
Chapter 4: Crash


Chapter 5: A Lucky Piece of Cake
Chapter 6: Tales
Chapter 7: Threats and Dangers


Chapter 8: 'It'll Be Good for Them'
Chapter 9: A Clue Here
Chapter 10: A Shot in the Arm


Chapter 11: A Bubble Bursts
Chapter 12: The Mysterious Joy of Language
Chapter 13: The Cabbage and the Giant
Chapter 14: Thousands Across the Country


Chapter 15: Rusting to Pieces
Chapter 16: The Patient
Chapter 17: The Last Night




Photo Credits


Charity Support

This book is a delight to read and at times will bring you to tears: for example, when we hear about Olivia’s unexpected death and its effect on Dahl. At other times the book will make you laugh out loud: for example, when we hear about the “golden age of chocolate”... This is a special and heartwarming book, full of incident, highly readable and informative....I can almost guarantee you will enjoy it and learn not only about Dahl’s writings but also about his contribution to medicine and to rehabilitation.
Barbara Wilson, The Oliver Zangwill Centre, Ely, Neuropsychological Rehabilitation


Inspired by meeting, conversing with, and medically treating Dahl in 1990...the book reflects the wealth of research undertaken by Solomon in archives, as well as his engagement with Dahl’s vast corpus, and the conversations with Dahl’s friends and families, in a concerted effort to diagnose the anecdotes shared during their witching hours on the ward.
Dr Jen Baker, The British Society for Literature and Science

Solomon (neurological science, Univ. of Liverpool, UK) has written an entertaining and unique biography of Roald Dahl. Renowned for his books and short stories, including Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and James and the Giant Peach, Dahl had a deep knowledge of medicine that informed his writing. Solomon was a doctor on the ward where Dahl was admitted for anemia, which gave him the opportunity to develop a relationship with Dahl, based in part on their shared knowledge of medicine. Solomon describes how Dahl’s writing drew on personal life experiences that were linked with psychological or physical trauma. A plane crash as a fighter pilot, malaria, the death of his young daughter Olivia, the serious injury of his son Theo, and a stroke suffered by his wife (the actress Patricia Neal) surface in his stories in unexpected ways. Solomon’s anecdotes combine with biographical details to give a full picture of Dahl and what drove his creative process. This is a very interesting and enjoyable read for fans of Dahl’s whimsical and dark humor. Proceeds from this book will go to six charities that were significant to Dahl.

J. Swiatek, UConn Health


Overall, the story of Dahl’s life is only part of the concoction that is Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Medicine, and the book provides novel insight into the less discussed aspects of the life of this well-loved and fascinating author.
Isabel Lokody, The Lancet

Solomon’s book shows how deeply medicine and illness permeated Dahl’s life, explaining much about his character, his achievements and even (perhaps) his creativity.
Tom Shippey, TLS

Format: Paperback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

256 Pages

ISBN: 9781781383391

Publication: September 13, 2016

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