The Mildenhall Treasure

Overview

During World War II, a British plowman discovered a hoard of Roman silver while plowing a field in the Suffolk countryside. Unaware of the treasure's value, he was cheated out of the fortune that should have been his by the man who hired him. The 34 pieces of silver were discovered after the war by the authorities and taken to the British Museum, where they reside today. Master storyteller Roald Dahl relates the unforgettable and true tale of ...
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Overview

During World War II, a British plowman discovered a hoard of Roman silver while plowing a field in the Suffolk countryside. Unaware of the treasure's value, he was cheated out of the fortune that should have been his by the man who hired him. The 34 pieces of silver were discovered after the war by the authorities and taken to the British Museum, where they reside today. Master storyteller Roald Dahl relates the unforgettable and true tale of the greatest treasure ever found in the British Isles.

Describes how a British plowman unearthed a collection of Roman silver in the 1940s and the events that followed this tremendous discovery.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-This story was originally published as a magazine article in the late `40s and again as part of the collection The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More (Knopf, 1977). A simple, honest plowman in wartime England uncovers a king's ransom in Roman silver in a field. By law, it must revert to the Crown, but a crafty colleague tricks the man out of the treasure, which would have brought him millions of pounds had he turned it in immediately. The colleague, in the meantime, keeps the silver and only gives it up when he is caught red-handed by a visiting scholar. It is a wonderful story, told in direct, high-impact sentences with the confiding, sure voice of a storyteller. Steadman's artwork, which is done primarily in dark colors, is fairly prosaic and cold at the beginning, though the colors warm and the compositions become more focused as the tale progresses. The tone and temper of the illustrations match with the narrative, even though some of the pictures are a page behind it. However, while the compositions have a nice balance to them, some of the work is so abstract or dark that it is difficult to imagine why it was put together with a story primarily marketed to children. There is no perfect marriage of art and text here. Buy Henry Sugar for Dahl fans who may never have heard of The Mildenhall Treasure and leave Steadman for the galleries and adult art books.-Patricia A. Dollisch, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Dahl (The Umbrella Man and Other Stories, 1998, etc.) weaves the story of the treasure and greed that unearthed the richest collection of Roman silver plate ever found in British soil. When Dahl was a young writer selling stories to magazines, he read a newspaper article about a find of Roman silver in a small town. The story so interested him that he traveled to the town and interviewed the ploughman who found it. This is a slightly edited republication of that story with new illustrations. On a cold, windy winter's day, George Butcher, hired to plow a field, struck a hard object that turned out to be one of 36 encrusted pieces of Roman silver. Ignorant of their worth, Butcher allowed Ford, an amateur archaeologist, to keep them. Knowing that he should report the treasure to the government and that a reward for the find should go to Butcher, Ford polished and hid everything. Four years later, a visiting archaeologist noticed two silver spoons on the mantle and the story came out. Claiming that he thought the artifacts were pewter, not silver, which under British law belongs to the government, Ford relinquished the pieces. The government awarded both men 1,000 pounds. If Ford had told Butcher about the treasure's worth immediately, Butcher's reward would have been at least a half-million pounds, and Ford would have received nothing. Steadman's dark, often grotesque and mysterious figures create a moody accompaniment to this strange tale with an ironic ending. A fascinating story. (Nonfiction. 12+ )
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375810350
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/12/2000
  • Edition description: 1ST BORZOI
  • Pages: 80
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 8.78 (w) x 11.70 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was one of the most celebrated children's authors of the 20th century. In 1961, he published James and the Giant Peach, followed by countless other bestsellers. He died in 1990.

Ralph Steadman's award-winning illustrations have appeared on several book and magazine covers. His own books include Gonzo, the Art and America.

Biography

"I have never met a boy who so persistently writes the exact opposite of what he means," a teacher once wrote in the young Roald Dahl's report card. "He seems incapable of marshaling his thoughts on paper." From such inauspicious beginnings emerged an immensely successful author whom The Evening Standard would one day dub "one of the greatest children's writers of all time."

Dahl may have been an unenthusiastic student, but he loved adventure stories, and when he finished school he went out into the world to have some adventures of his own. He went abroad as a representative of the Shell corporation in Dar-es-Salaam, and then served in World War II as a pilot in the Royal Air Force. After the war, Dahl began his writing career in earnest, publishing two well-received collections of short stories for adults, along with one flop of a novel.

The short stories, full of tension and subtle psychological horror, didn't seem to presage a children's author. Malcolm Bradbury wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "[Dahl's] characters are usually ignoble: he knows the dog beneath the skin, or works hard to find it." Yet this talent for finding, and exposing, the nastier sides of grown-up behavior served him well in writing for children. As Dahl put it, "Writing is all propaganda, in a sense. You can get at greediness and selfishness by making them look ridiculous. The greatest attribute of a human being is kindness, and all the other qualities like bravery and perseverance are secondary to that."

In 1953, Dahl married the actress Patricia Neal; two of his early children's books, James and the Giant Peach (1961) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) grew out of the bedtime stories he made up for their children. Elaine Moss, writing in the Times, called the latter "the funniest children's book I have read in years; not just funny but shot through with a zany pathos which touches the young heart." Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a colossal hit. A film version starring Gene Wilder was released in 1971 (as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), while James and the Giant Peach was made into a movie in 1996.

Dahl followed his initial successes with a string of bestsellers, including Danny, the Champion of the World, The Twits, The BFG, The Witches and Matilda. Some adults objected to the books' violence -- unpleasant characters (like James’s Aunts Sponge and Spiker) tend to get bumped off in grotesque and inventive ways -- but Dahl defended his stories as part of a tradition of gruesome fairy tales in which mean people get what they deserve. "These tales are pretty rough, but the violence is confined to a magical time and place," he said, adding that children like violent stories as long as they're "tied to fantasy and humor." By the time of his death in 1990, Dahl's mischievous wit had captivated so many readers that The Times called him "one of the most widely read and influential writers of our generation."

Good To Know

When Dahl was in school, he and his schoolmates occasionally served as new-product testers for the Cadbury chocolate company. Dahl used to dream of working in a chocolate manufacturer's inventing room. He wrote in his autobiography, "I have no doubt at all that, 35 years later, when I was looking for a plot for my second book for children, I remembered those little cardboard boxes and the newly invented chocolates inside them, and I began to write a book called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

Dahl's first book for children, The Gremlins (1943), was a story about the mythical creatures that sabotaged British planes. (Dahl claimed for most of his life that he had coined the term "gremlins," but it had been in use by members of the Royal Air Force for years.) Walt Disney planned to use it as the basis for a movie, but the project was scrapped, and only 5,000 copies of the book were ever printed.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      September 13, 1916
    2. Place of Birth:
      Llandaff, Wales, England
    1. Date of Death:
      November 23, 1990
    2. Place of Death:
      Oxford, England

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