Was Roald Dahl a Sex Spy?

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Roald Dahl
Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images


Okay. Um. One second, sorry. We're uh … we're trying to work through a troubling bit of information here, having to do with one of our childhood heroes. According to a new biography, children's author Roald Dahl was not only a British spy stationed in Washington, D.C., during the early forties, tasked with convincing powerful American dignitaries to commit to Europe; he was, apparently, some kind of special sex spy. Standard Oil heiress Millicent Rogers was a conquest, along with Time magazine publisher Henry Robinson Luce's wife. This was all in the line of duty, of course: According to the report in the Telegraph, Clare "Booth Luce proved so frisky, Dahl later claimed to have begged his superiors to take him off the assignment, only to be told to get back into the bedroom."

Dahl's never had a squeaky-clean reputation — along with whimsical children's classics like The BFG and James and the Giant Peach, he's written risqué adult novels like My Uncle Oswald, about a sperm-bank pioneer, and been accused of harboring a personal anti-Semitism. So, basically, we were okay with digesting this bit of information and moving on before … well, before we read the part about how, in the bio, he's described as "one of the biggest cocksmen in America."

Roald Dahl's seductive work as a British spy [Telegraph]