Sophie Dahl

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Sophie Dahl (born Sophie Holloway; 15 September 1977) is an English fashion model and author. As a writer, she completed her first novella in 2003 entitled The Man with the Dancing Eyes and followed this with Playing With the Grown-ups in 2008. In 2010 she wrote Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights, a cookery book which featured recipes that were recreated for a six-part BBC 2 series called The Delicious Miss Dahl.

Born in London, Dahl made her debut on the English catwalk in London Fashion Week in the Autumn of 1997. That year, she was discovered by Isabella Blow, who was then a stylist for Vogue magazine. Blow introduced her to the management at the Storm Model Agency in London who signed her to a number of modelling campaigns, including those for Versace, Alexander McQueen, Patrick Cox, DKNY, Boucheron and Pringle.

Dahl is the daughter of actor Julian Holloway and writer Tessa Dahl. Her maternal grandparents were the children's author Roald Dahl and the American actress Patricia Neal. Her paternal grandparents were the actor Stanley Holloway and the former chorus dancer Violet Lane. Dahl was the inspiration for Sophie, the main character in her maternal grandfather's book The BFG. She is married to the singer Jamie Cullum.

Early life[edit]

Dahl was born Sophie Holloway in London[1] to the actor Julian Holloway and the writer Tessa Dahl. As a child, Sophie led a turbulent lifestyle; she attended 10 schools and lived in 17 homes in various locations including London, New York, and India.[2] Dahl often spent time at both her maternal and paternal grandparents' houses in Great Missenden[3] and Angmering respectively.[4] Dahl has noted that her childhood was "an odd one, but with such magic".[2]



Dahl became interested in modelling after a chance meeting with the Vogue stylist Isabella Blow on the streets of West London. Blow found Dahl crying after an argument with her parents over her reluctance to study art history. Blow consoled her and introduced her to Sarah Doukas of the Storm Model Agency.[2] Dahl made her modelling debut on the catwalk of Lainey Keogh's first major show, in London Fashion Week for Autumn 1997.[5] Under their management, Dahl appeared in campaigns for Versace, Alexander McQueen, Patrick Cox, Pringle, and Gap, among others.[6] She was heralded as one of the first plus size models in fashion, being a UK dress size 14 at a time when most models were a size 10 or below.[7]

Dahl has worked with numerous notable photographers, including Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Peter Lindbergh, Bruce Weber, Steven Klein and Steven Meisel.[8] Over the course of her career, she appeared in many editorials for high fashion magazines such as Visionaire, French and German Vogue, W, ID and V magazine. In 1997 she appeared with Kate Moss in the Elton John music video "Something About the Way You Look Tonight".[9] In 2000, Dahl became the face of Yves Saint-Laurent's Opium. The ad, art-directed by Tom Ford and shot by Steven Meisel, was a photograph of Dahl with cherry red hair posing nude on black satin. It was removed from UK billboards after complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority.[10] Accused of sexually objectifying women, it is in the top ten most-complained about advertisements of all time. Dahl responded to the criticism: "I think the photograph is beautiful... it was seen as being anti-women, when in fact I think it is very empowering to women".[11] In 2012, Dahl was announced as the new face of Aubin & Wills.[2]


Dahl has written extensively for Vogue, and in November 2012, she won a Jasmine award for her column about scent.[12] In 2003 Dahl completed her first book, The Man with the Dancing Eyes, published by Bloomsbury Publishing.[13] After this she began writing regularly for publications such as American Vogue, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Observer and the Saturday Times.[14]

From 2005 Dahl was a contributing editor and regular columnist at Men's Vogue, prior to its closure in 2008. Dahl is the author of three other books: Playing with the Grown-Ups (2008)[15] and two cook books, Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights (2009)[16] and From Season To Season (2011).[17] She was a contributor to an anthology, Truth or Dare edited by Justine Picardie, which included works by Zoë Heller and William Fiennes.[18] Dahl provided introductions to the Puffin Classic new edition of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett,[19] the Virago Press re-issue of Stella Gibbons' 1938 novel Nightingale Wood which was released in April 2009, and Nancy Mitford's "Don't Tell Alfred", reissued by Penguin in March 2010.[20]

During March and April 2010, Dahl wrote and presented a six-part cookery series entitled The Delicious Miss Dahl, which was broadcast on BBC 2. The following year, she filmed a documentary about the Victorian cook, Isabella Beeton which was transmitted on BBC2.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Dahl is the daughter of the English actor Julian Holloway and the writer Tessa Dahl. Sophie comes from an artistic background, with notable grandparents on both sides. Her paternal grandparents were the actor Stanley Holloway and the former chorus dancer Violet Lane.[22] Dahl's paternal lineage has been associated with the stage since 1850; Charles Bernard (1830–1894), a great-uncle to Holloway, was a successful Shakespearean actor and theatre manager both in London and the English provinces. Bernard's son, Oliver Percy Bernard OBE MC (1881–1939), was an English architect and scenic designer, responsible for the sets for Sir Thomas Beecham's Ring Cycle at Covent Garden.[23][24] Through Bernard, Dahl is related to his sons, the poet and translator Oliver Bernard, the photographer Bruce Bernard,[25] and the writer Jeffrey Bernard.[22][25] Dahl's maternal grandparents were the author Roald Dahl and the American actress Patricia Neal.[26]

On 9 January 2010 Dahl married the singer Jamie Cullum.[27] They had their first child, a daughter named Lyra, on 2 March 2011;[28] she was followed by a second daughter, Margot, on 4 March 2013.[29] The family live in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire.[30]


  1. ^ "Sophie Dahl: About Sophie Dahl",, accessed 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d "'I'm a bit of a dork", The Guardian, 19 October 2007, accessed 26 November 2013
  3. ^ "Visiting the Roald Dahl Museum", Roald Dahl, accessed 26 November 2013.
  4. ^ "Sophie Dahl, model and TV presenter", The Scotsman, 20 March 2010, accessed 26 November 2013.
  5. ^ Harris, Constance (28 October 2001). "Lainey Keogh's divine creatures". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  6. ^ "Sophie Dahl makes modelling comeback". The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Interview: Sophie Dahl; 'My granny thinks I'm grotesque'". The Independent. 6 April 1997. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  8. ^ "At The Kitchen Table: Sophie Dahl Biography", Sophie Dahl official website, accessed 18 November 2014.
  9. ^ Sophie Dahl, New York Magazine, accessed 18 November 2014.
  10. ^ "Case studies: Study of a nude on a poster". The Advertising Standards Authority. Archived from the original on 6 February 2008.
  11. ^ Sowray, Bibby (30 May 2012). "YSL Opium advert is eighth most complained about". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  12. ^ "Vogue Celebrated at Jasmine Awards", Vogue magazine, 7 March 2013, accessed 26 November 2013.
  13. ^ "They met at a fancy-dress party. But then he changed...", Rachel Cooke The Observer, 2 February 2003, accessed 26 November 2013.
  14. ^ "Sophie Dahl", Harper Collins, accessed 26 November 2013.
  15. ^ Guest, Katy (16 November 2007). "Playing with the Grown ups, by Sophie Dahl". The Independent. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  16. ^ "Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights", Harper Collins, accessed 26 November 2013.
  17. ^ "From Season to Season", Harper Collins, accessed 26 November 2013.
  18. ^ "Truth or Dare: The First Boy I Loved", pp. 105–117.
  19. ^ "The secret garden / Frances Hodgson Burnett; introduced by Sophie Dahl; illustrations by Robin Lawrie Burnett, Frances Hodgson, 1849-1924", National Library of Australia, accessed 24 November 2013.
  20. ^ "What a tonic: the wit who refused to be waspish", The Telegraph, 12 March 2010, accessed 24 November 2013.
  21. ^ "Two Programmes - The Marvellous Mrs Beeton, with Sophie Dahl". BBC. 29 September 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  22. ^ a b Holloway and Richards, pp. 74–75
  23. ^ Holloway and Richards, p. 74
  24. ^ "He was the nice one: farewell to Oliver Bernard", London Evening Standard, 4 June 2013
  25. ^ a b May, A. (2004) "Bernard, Bruce Bonus (1928–2000)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, accessed 22 August 2007 (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  26. ^ "Patricia Neal Obituary", The Telegraph, 9 August 2010, accessed 26 November 2013.
  27. ^ "Sophie Dahl and Jamie Cullum's Secret Wedding", The Independent, 11 January 2010, accessed 26 November 2013
  28. ^ "Sophie Dahl Gives Birth to First Child", The Telegraph, 6 March 2011, accessed 26 November 2013.
  29. ^ "A new addition to the Dahl family: Sophie reveals that she is pregnant with second child", Daily Mail, 1 November 2012, accessed 6 December 2012
  30. ^ "Ooh, I think I felt the little Dahling kick: Just a month to go until Sophie and Jamie's big day", Daily Mail (online edition), 30 January 2011, accessed 26 October 2012.


  • Holloway, Stanley; Richards, Dick (1967). Wiv a little bit o' luck: The life story of Stanley Holloway. London: Frewin. OCLC 3647363.


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