If there’s one group that has always singled itself out as enjoying a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle, it is writers – or authors. Throughout the ages many authors have lived extravagant, pleasure seeking lives and have indulged themselves in every way, enjoying life to the full. It should then come as no surprise that many of the prominent figures in the history of literature were also keen gamblers! Let’s take a look at a few famous authors who loved to play:
It’s no secret that the author of many well-loved children’s stories, Roald Dahl, loved to gamble. He was, at various stages in his life, a RAF fighter pilot, an American spy for the British, a Greyhound racer, and of course, a gambler.
What’s more, his love for gambling formed a silver thread throughout his work, as much mention was made of gambling and games of luck within the context of his stories. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is but one example. Henry Sugar is a wealthy playboy who is not afraid of winning or losing and just loves to gamble. Even more interesting is the fact that Henry is not above cheating in order to win.
Lucy Dahl, screenwriter and daughter of the late Roald Dahl, recalls that her father was madly in love with gambling, but not to the point of being addicted. Lucy remembers how every Saturday evening; Roald Dahl had what he referred to as a tickle on the tables. According to Lucy, Dahl taught his children to play Blackjack just as soon as they were old enough to learn how to count. She goes on to tell the story of how he snuck her (Lucy) into the Ritz Casino when she was only 16 years old, and how they won. To this day, this remains one of her favourite memories of her late father.
Much has been written about Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky’s penchant for gambling, and most of it by the man himself. During his lifetime, Dostoevsky absolutely adored the game of Roulette, which was said to have left him bankrupt more than just a couple of times! Dostoevsky famously considered gambling to be the only passionate pastime that could also lead to making a profit, despite the accompanying risks involved with living a lifestyle of pure risk.
For Dostoevesky, it all started after he had graduated from high school and needed to make a quick buck. He started out on dominoes and pool, but Roulette soon stole the show. So evolved was his passion for gambling, that he went on to write the novel The Gambler, which is considered to be one of the most valuable works of literature ever written on the topic of gambling.
Not many people realise that Hemingway not only had a love for words, but also for gambling. After having relocated to Paris during the 1920’s, Hemingway became a regular at the races. He described betting on horse racing as being a demanding friend and was notorious for betting big.
Even as a child, Hemingway seemed taken with the idea of gambling and this permeated into his early work. One of Hemingway’s earliest stories was centred on a Poker game. Later on in life, Hemingway also proclaimed publically that he considered himself to be a great Poker player.
Famous for bringing James Bond to life, Ian Fleming’s love of gambling spilled over to his books. James Bond has often been credited for making Baccarat popular again, and the super spy spends a considerable amount of time in casinos. Interestingly, Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming followed similar life paths and in the 1940’s even served in the same special group of spies that were selected at the order of Winston Churchill. While their literary styles differed greatly, it is said that the two men both had the same passion for gambling and that they spent a lot of time refining their skills over the years. For Fleming, the passion for gambling is evident in so many of his books, and many wonder if James Bond was based on him!