Editor Roald Dahl edits ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ to remove the word ‘big’ for ‘inclusion and accessibility’

Editor Roald Dahl edits ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ to remove the word ‘big’ for ‘inclusion and accessibility’

Editors at Penguin’s children’s publisher Puffin have taken a red pencil over the works of iconic but controversial British writer Roald Dahl, known for ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Matilda’ among so many others.

A detailed report by the British newspaper The Telegraph states that “language related to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race has been cut and rewritten”.

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In the 1964 novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, which was twice adapted into films in 1971 and 2005, starring Gene Hackman and Johnny Depp respectively, for example, the phrase “enormously fat” was changed to “enormous”. . The same phrase in the 1970 book “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” adapted into an animated film by Wes Anderson with a voice cast by George Clooney and Meryl Streep in 2009, was also changed to “enormous.”

The report compares the 2001 editions of Dahl’s children’s books to the 2022 editions and finds that the word “bold” has been consistently dropped, including in “The Enormous Crocodile” (1978), “James and the Giant Peach” (1961), “The Twits” (1980) and “The Witches” (1983).

Other examples of Puffin’s editing include Miss Trunchbull’s description in “Matilda” changed from “most formidable woman” to “most formidable woman”; The Oompa Loompas in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” changed from “little men” to “little people”; and “Bunce, the pot-bellied little dwarf” “Fantastic Mr. Fox” at just Bunce.

Puffin and the Roald Dahl Story Company made the edits with Inclusive Minds, a collective specializing in “inclusion and accessibility in children’s literature,” according to a spokesperson.

The report cites the copyright page of Puffin’s new editions of Dahl’s books, saying, “This book was written many years ago, and so we regularly review the language to ensure it can continue to be enjoyed by all today.”

A spokesperson for the Roald Dahl Story Company said Variety“We want to ensure that the wonderful stories and characters of Roald Dahl continue to be enjoyed by all children today. When publishing new prints of books written years ago, it’s not uncommon to revisit the language used while updating other details, including a book’s cover and layout. Our guiding principle throughout has been to maintain the plots, characters, irreverence and sharp wit of the original text. All changes made have been minimal and carefully considered.

“As part of our language review process, we partnered with Inclusive Minds, a collective of people passionate about inclusion and accessibility in children’s literature. The current review began in 2020, before Dahl was acquired by Netflix. It was run by Puffin and Roald Dahl Story Company together.

There have been allegations of misogyny, racism and anti-Semitism against Dahl, who died in 1990. In 2020, his family issued an apology for the writer’s “damaging remarks”.

In 2021, Netflix acquired the Roald Dahl company. However, the review of the author’s works began in 2020, before the agreement.

Variety contacted Puffin for comment.

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