A photographer has spoken exclusively about the moment he came face to face with one of the world's best-loved authors – Roald Dahl.
John Stewart Farrier, who has captured many illustrious faces on film including Margaret Thatcher, Sir Cliff Richard and John Lennon, has released some previously unseen images of the author.
Mr Farrier, of Ethelbert Road in Faversham, has told of his time spent with the late novelist, famous for his children’s books – the BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach and Matilda to name but a few.
Roald Dahl died in November 1990 aged 74 after a remarkable career as a story writer, poet and screenwriter – even creating the screenplay for James Bond’s You Only Live Twice.
Mr Farrier describes the moment they met: “It was raining heavily on the day I arrived at Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire – the home of Roald Dahl – author, fighter pilot and screenwriter.
“I was looking forward to this photographic session, especially when my daughter Sarah was one of his greatest fans.
“I tapped on the front door – it suddenly opened and there was Roald greeting me saying ‘I don’t like people with beards, they have something to hide’.”
He says that there was tension as he entered Roald’s hallway and he thought it would be a quick, abrupt session with little conversation, but it wasn’t long before the ball started rolling and the chat started flowing.
Mr Farrier said: “Roald said ‘thank god we are not talking about my books and I certainly don’t want to be photographed in my garden hut. Everyone does that’.
“I said it suited me fine and told him to just lounge around on the sofa. He said he was going to have a cigarette while we chatted. I asked him ‘have you always been such a grumpy old man?’ as I hid behind my Nikon camera waiting for an immediate reply asking me to leave... but it never happened.
“We both began to laugh and thereafter it was just magic – the ice had broken.”
Mr Farrier and Roald chatted for the rest of afternoon, even moving on to lunch prepared by his wife Patricia, an American actress.
After initial concerns he would be in and out within five minutes, Mr Farrier spent five whole hours with the author.
He added: “He talked about the days being a Hawker Hurricane fighter pilot during the war, then writing the screenplay for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and even a touch of James Bond was thrown into the conversation – such an unexpected treat.
“We then went onto his children’s books with a captivating insight to his amazing story telling, and ended up with the paintings and painters he really admired, including Francis Bacon, the brush strokes of Bratby – the colours of Kandinsky’s work.
“I was captured by his charismatic charm.”
The day ended with a signed book for his daughter with the following inscription: “To Sarah, I really like your dad, but I still don’t like beards – Roald Dahl.”
Mr Farrier said: “As I sat in my car sorting out my camera and organising myself to leave, I began to laugh out loud again and think what a lovely person he was to be with – spellbinding and delightful.
“Roald Dahl you’re such a treat to photograph. I had captured a little bit of photographic magic if I do say so myself.”