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Did you know that Roald Dahl had a fascination with medicine, including encephalitis?
That is the topic of Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Medicine, a new book from Professor Tom Solomon, the Chair of our Professional Advisory Panel.
Dahl’s interest in encephalitis stemmed from his daughter Olivia’s tragic death from measles encephalitis when she was aged just seven. Dahl spent years trying to understand the disease better, became a passionate advocate of vaccination, when it later became available.
The book was launched on 11th September 2016, at an event organised by the Times Literary Supplement, part of the King’s Place Festival in London.
The Encephalitis Society was represented at the launch by Regional Rep Christine Salter, Professional Advisory Panel Member Dr Nick Davies, and Society Ambassador Simon Hattenstone.
The launch, which coincided with the 100th Anniversary of Dahl’s birth received national coverage, with Tom appearing on Sky TV, and BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live Programme. Amazingly the book sold out, 1,000 copies within a week, prompting a very quick second print run.
In an excerpt from his book, Professor Solomon tells us about this fascination as well as his connection to the author of such children’s classics as The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
“Many of Roald’s medical experiences influenced his writing. He loved nothing better than to describe a gruesome operation, with no anaesthetic, performed on the nursery table.
"But some of the influences were more subtle. Take gobblefunk, for example, the strange mixed-up language of the BFG. Where did Roald get the idea for this? Roald’s first wife Patricia Neal suffered a stroke, and as she was learning to talk again she came up with all sorts of strange words. Roald said all this gobblefunk had them giggling for hours.
"How do I know all this? Because I was Roald Dahl’s doctor! I got to know him at the end of his life, when he was a patient in hospital in Oxford, and I was a junior doctor there.
"Nowadays I am a busy professor in Liverpool running round doing all sorts of things, but back then life seemed less hectic.
"In those final few weeks, in the quiet of the night, when everyone else was asleep, Roald and I would talk and talk. I think he knew his life was coming to an end, and wanted one last chance to tell his best stories, and maybe even reveal some secrets that he had never shared before.”
One hundred per cent of the author royalties from the book are being donated to charities working in areas that were of interest to Roald Dahl, including The Encephalitis Society.
Professor Solomon will also be talking about his book at our Annual Members Meeting in York on November 5, where he will also be signing copies.
Visit our online SHOP today to order your copy of Roald Dahl's Marvellous Medicine.
For more about the book, including interviews with Professor Solomon, please click HERE
The Encephalitis Society is the operating name of the Encephalitis Support Group which is a registered Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee.
Registered in England and Wales No. 4189027. Registered Office as above. Registered Charity No. 1087843.