Life Advice from Roald Dahl in 10 Scrumdiddlyumptious Quotes

Editor's Note:

If you’re stirred by these Roald Dahl quotes, amble down our archive of author quotes for more. And visit our celebration of Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday here.

Roald Dahl wasn’t shy about moralizing in his works for children. What is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but a parade of examples not to follow — set to verse, no less?

A few decades may have passed, but the potency of Dahl’s wisdom hasn’t deteriorated one jot. All that life advice you failed to take as a child is still waiting to be heard, and here you are still watching too much TV, eating too much junk food, and gobblefunking around with words. Below are some pearls from the master storyteller’s pen, intended to help you become your best, most scrumdiddlyumptious self. Ignore at your own risk!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1964
“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books.”

The BFG, 1982
“Don’t gobblefunk around with words.”

The Twits, 1980
“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

Matilda, 1988
“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.”

Matilda, 1988
“Matilda said, “Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable…”

Danny, the Champion of the World, 1975
“A mouth-smile is different. You can fake a mouth-smile any time you want, simply by moving your lips. I’ve also learned that a real mouth-smile always has an eye-smile to go with it. So watch out, I say, when someone smiles at you but his eyes stay the same. It’s sure to be a phony.”

James and the Giant Peach, 1961
“‘My dear young fellow,’ the Old-Green-Grasshopper said gently, ‘there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t started wondering about yet.'”

Boy: Tales of Childhood, 1984
“When writing about oneself, one must strive to be truthful. Truth is more important than modesty.”

James and the Giant Peach, 1961
“‘Poor Earthworm,’ the Ladybird said, whispering in James’s ear. ‘He loves to make everything into a disaster. He hates to be happy. He is only happy when he is gloomy.'”

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, 1977
“Some people when they have taken too much and have been driven beyond the point of endurance, simply crumble and give up. There are others, though they are not many, who will for some reason always be unconquerable. You meet them in time of war and also in time of peace. They have an indomitable spirit and nothing, neither pain nor torture nor threat of death, will cause them to give up.”