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Dahl’s doped-up childhood a dark tale

Roald Dahl’s daughter Tessa has told how her father doped her with tranquillisers from the age of four to cope with a series of family tragedies.

In the Mail on Sunday’s Review section, the actress, author and mother of model Sophie tells how she was just four when, in 1960, she saw her brother Theo’s pram hit by a taxi, leaving him with brain damage. Traumatised, she began wetting the bed and author Roald found a doctor to prescribe drugs.

(File image) Author Roald Dahl.

Tessa, 55, writes: “So, at the age of four, I started on the road to swallowing my sorrows with a pill.”

Tragedy struck again in 1962, when her sister Olivia died, and in 1965 her actress mother, Oscar-winner Patricia Neal, suffered a series of strokes. Each time her father upped her medication.

As a teenager, her father gave Tessa barbiturates. She says: “I learnt to worship pills. I think he gave me drugs because he knew no other way to communicate with me to calm me down.

“No one stopped to think I was a train wreck waiting to happen,” adds Tessa, who later endured alcoholism, drug addiction and failed marriages. - Mail on Sunday

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