Roald Dahl was once thought to be the greatest children’s author of all time, but times change and in more recent years, some of his books have been highlighted for not being inclusive. Children’s books that call characters fat, or ugly, aren’t really what modern audiences expect, which is why children’s publisher Puffin is believed to have hired writers to trawl his collection and edit out some of the more offensive terms and ensure his books “can still be enjoyed by all today”.
As we understand it, new editions of Dahl’s books will be longer use the word fat. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Augustus Gloop will no longer be described as enormous as Puffin attempt to make Dahl’s language a little more inclusive. Mrs Hoppy from Esio Trot is also getting a makeover and will be described not as an ‘attractive middle-aged lady’ but instead a ‘kind middle-aged lady’, while Miss Trunchbull from Matilda, known to many of us as a ‘most formidable female’ will now be described as a ‘most formidable woman’, and will no longer be described as having a ‘great horsey face’. Oompa-Loompas who were once small men are now small people, and the Fantastic Mr Fox’s three sons have become daughters.
In addition to changes In the descriptions of characters, other passages have been changed. For instance in Roald Dahl’s The Witches a paragraph describing them as bald under their wigs is followed shortly by a new line: ‘There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.’ The Witches has been subject to 59 changes, and many other changes have been made too across other Dahl works.
Dahl and his works have created much controversy over the years. In 2020 the Cardiff born author’s family apologised fr the author’s incomprehensible anti-Semitic comments after a 1983 interview with the New Statesman resurfaced where the author said “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity. Maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere.” He added: “Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.”
The new changes were made by Puffin and the Roald Dahl Story Company in conjunction with Inclusive Minds, which its spokesperson describes as “a collective for people who are passionate about inclusion and accessibility in children’s literature”.
What do you think of the changes? Unedited versions are still available, but the new editions from Puffin will include all the changes.