The publisher of Roald Dahl, the famed children’s author who wrote “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Matilda,” “James and the Giant Peach,” and “The BFG,” among other works, has collaborated with the Roald Dahl Story Co., which manages the works’ copyright and trademarks, to make hundreds of alterations in order not to offend anyone with Dahl’s original works.
The Roald Dahl Story Co. admitted they had worked with Inclusive Minds, which monitors children’s literature for inclusion, diversity, and accessibility, The Washington Post reported.
The Telegraph illuminated some of the changes made to Dahl’s books, and their report caused author Salman Rushdie, himself the subject of an Iranian death warrant for his work, to tweet, “Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed.”
Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed. https://t.co/sdjMfBr7WW
— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) February 18, 2023
The Roald Dahl Story Co. argued that the changes were “small and carefully considered,” while insisting they wanted “to ensure that Roald Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today.” Their statement added, “When publishing new print runs of books written years ago, it’s not unusual to review the language used alongside updating other details including a book’s cover and page layout.”
Some of the changes implemented by the publisher include the following:
In “The Twits”: “Have you ever seen a woman with an uglier face than that” became “Have you ever seen anyone with an uglier face than that.” “Oh do shut up, you old hag” became “Oh do shut up, you old crow.”
In “The Witches,” the following sentences were removed:
I do not wish to speak badly about women. Most women are lovely.
“How horrid!” “Disgusting,” my grandmother said.
When an actress wears a wig, or if you or I were to wear a wig, we would be putting it on over our own hair, but a witch has to put it straight on to her naked scalp.
In “Matilda,” “mothers and fathers” became “parents.” “She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling,” became “She went to nineteenth century estates with Jane Austen. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and California with John Steinbeck.”
In “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” this sentence was entirely removed: “Mike Teavee himself had no less than eighteen toy pistols of various sizes hanging from belts around his body, and every now and again he would leap up into the air and fire off half a dozen rounds from one or another of these weapons.”
This sentence was also removed: “The Oompa-Loompas spent every moment of their days climbing through the treetops.”
In “The BFG,” the word “black” was consistently replaced by the word “dark” in sentences such as “It was something black,” “It was something tall and black,” and “Something very tall and very black and very thin.”