Tessa Dahl

Chantal Sophia "Tessa" Dahl (born 11 April 1957) is an English author and former actress. She is the daughter of British author Roald Dahl and American actress Patricia Neal.

Tessa Dahl
Chantal Sophia Dahl

(1957-04-11) 11 April 1957
ResidenceUnited States
OccupationNovelist, journalist
Home townGreat Missenden, Buckinghamshire
Spouse(s)James Kelly
Patrick Donovan
Partner(s)Julian Holloway (1976)
Children4, including Sophie Dahl
Parent(s)Roald Dahl
Patricia Neal
RelativesOphelia Dahl (sister)
Lucy Dahl (sister)
Phoebe Dahl (niece)
Nicholas Logsdail (paternal first cousin)


Dahl was born in Oxford, the daughter of British author Roald Dahl and American actress Patricia Neal. She grew up in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, and attended Roedean and Downe House schools, the Elizabeth Russell Cookery School and the Herbert Bergof Acting Studio.

Dahl has worked as an actress, modeled, worked at an antique shop, worked at an employment agency and written articles for Tatler before publishing her first novel, the semi-autobiographical Working For Love, in 1988.[1] Tessa Dahl became a prolific author of children's fiction. Her book Gwenda and the Animals won the Friends of the Earth Best Children's Book of the Year. In addition, she has written extensively for the London Times, Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, "The Sunday Telegraph", the Daily Mail, The Mail On Sunday, Vogue, House and Garden (US) and YOU Magazine. For many years, she was a contributing editor to the magazine Tatler.

Dahl's relationship with actor Julian Holloway produced one daughter, model and author Sophie Dahl; the couple separated shortly afterwards.[2] She subsequently married businessman James Kelly and had two children, Clover and Luke. She then married businessman Patrick Donovan, son of Ambassador Francis Patrick Donovan, and had a son, Ned, a journalist. In 2019, the Jordanian royal court announced Ned's engagement to Princess Raiyah bint Hussein.

Tessa Dahl has also had relationships with Peter Sellers, David Hemmings, Bryan Ferry, Brian de Palma and Dai Llewellyn.[3][4]


Year Film Role
1973 Happy Mother's Day, Love George Celia Perry
1975 Royal Flash First Girl
1976 The Slipper and The Rose Princess
1978 Leopard in the Snow Miss Framley


Year Title Role Notes
1975 Movin' On Haley Episode: "Prosperity #1"
1992 This Is Your Life Herself Episode: "Gary Glitter"
2005 Imagine Herself Episode: "Fantastic Mr Dahl"
2005 The Wonderful World of Roald Dahl Herself TV Movie documentary
2005 Come Home Gary Glitter Herself TV documentary
2017 Revolting Herself - Roald Dahl's Daughter Episode #1.5


Apprenticed at the Barter Theatre, Abingdon, Va. (1972). The Deep Man by Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1979) Royal Exchange, Manchester.


  • Working for Love (1988)
  • The Same But Different (1988) – picture book
  • Gwenda & the Animals (1989)
  • School Can Wait (1990)
  • Babies, Babies, Babies (1991) – picture book
  • Everywoman's Experience of Pregnancy and Birth (1994)


  1. "For Love and Money : Celebrity Daughter Tessa Dahl Wrote Her First Novel Because She Needed a Job. She Also Needed the Applause." Los Angeles Times, 5 March 1989. Accessed 10 November 2015
  2. "A fairytale life" The Telegraph, 28 January 2003. Accessed 14 December 2018.
  3. "Great dynasties of the world: The Dahls" The Guardian, 19 November 2010. Accessed 13 February 2017
  4. "'In my youth," Tessa Dahl has said, "I was notorious not famous." Her father was legendary author Roald Dahl and her mother the movie star Patricia Neal. Life was never going to be conventional for Tessa." Sunday Independent (Dublin, Republic of Ireland), 26 December 2010].
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