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Roald Dahl: ‘Sexiest’ British spy in America

world Updated: Sep 01, 2008 01:43 IST

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Move over, fictional spies like James Bond. Meet Roald Dahl, the “sexiest” British spy in the US during World War II.

Yes, one of the world’s greatest children authors of best-selling classics, Dahl, was a languid seducer who bedded “everybody on the east and west coasts” of America before he turned to writing, according to a new book.

His conquests included Millicent Rogers, the glamorous heiress to a Standard Oil fortune; and Clare Boothe Luce, the sexually frisky wife of the publisher of Time magazine and a right-wing Congresswoman, the upcoming book has claimed.

Dahl, whose best-selling classics include The Twits and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, had even befriended Eleanor Roosevelt, the glamorous wife of former US President Franklin D Roosevelt, and also became a regular visitor to the White House, The Sunday Times reported.

“Dahl’s superiors watched his rake’s progress with grudging admiration. A certain amount of hanky-panky was condoned, especially when it was for a good cause,” Jennet Conant, an American journalist, wrote in The Irregulars.

In fact, in the book, Conant has supported her claims about the British spy’s sexual life with corroborating quotes from Antoinette Marsh Haskell, the daughter of Dahl’s closest American friend Charles Marsh who was a newspaper magnate.

“Girls just fell at Roald’s feet. I think he slept with everybody on the east and west coasts that (was worth) more than $50,000 a year. There was a parade of women,” according to Haskell.

Dahl was sent to the British Embassy in Washington as an undercover agent after he was injured during training as a Royal Air Force pilot in the Middle East.

Dahl gladly joined the world of codenames and secret passwords, before he discovered a talent for writing in 1943. He died in 1990.