Roald Dahl censored by publisher after consultation with group focused on 'inclusion, diversity' in children's literature

"Language related to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race has been cut and rewritten."

Joshua Young North Carolina

Books by the acclaimed children's author Roald Dahl, creator of such classics as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, and James and the Giant Peach, have been censored by the publisher, Puffin, after consulting with Inclusive Minds, a "collective for people who are passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility in children's literature," according to their website.

The Telegraph published an article on Friday reporting how Puffin hired "sensitivity readers" to go through Dahl's work and identify language that they deemed offensive, such as some characters being referred to as fat or ugly, and then edit and rewrite the material into something new. "Language related to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race has been cut and rewritten," the outlet reported.

Puffin, a division of Penguin books, placed a notice on the bottom of the copyright page on the most recent editions of Dahl's books that reads, "Words matter. The wonderful words of Roald Dahl can transport you to different worlds and introduce you to the most marvellous characters. This book was written many years ago, and so we regularly review the language to ensure that it can continue to be enjoyed by all today."

The changes, approved by Roald Dahl Company, include the description of the character Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The character was previously called "fat," and is now referred to as "enormous."

Mrs. Twits from The Twits was formerly called "ugly and beastly" in the book's initial publication, but is now only "beastly." Miss. Trunchbull's "great horsey face" in the book Matilda has been changed to simply "face."

Other changes to Miss. Trunchball from Matilda include her description as a "most formidable female" to a "most formidable woman."

59 changes were made to The Witches, first published in 1983, according to the Telegraph. "I do not wish to speak badly about women. Most women are lovely" and "There was something indecent about a bald woman," were two examples of phrases completely removed from the book. In another instance, when the witches were described as bald underneath their wigs, an entirely new sentence was added: "There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that."

Other changes in The Witches include having "fat" removed from the phrase "fat little brown mouse," and "'Here's your little boy,' she said. 'He needs to go on a diet'" becoming "Here's your little boy."

In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Oompa Loompas went from being called "small men" to "small people."

Across all the books, "parents" has taken the place of "mothers and fathers," and "children" has taken the place of "girls and boys."

In James and the Giant Peach, "Cloud-People" take the place of "Cloud-Men."

More entirely new pieces of writing have been put into James and the Giant Peach as well. "Aunt Sponge was terrifically fat / And tremendously flabby at that," has been cut. In its place is "Aunt Sponge was a nasty old brute / And deserved to be squashed by the fruit."

According to the Irish Examiner, the co-founder of Inclusive Minds, Alexandra Strick, said her company aims " to ensure authentic representation, by working closely with the book world and with those who have lived experience of any facet of diversity."

A spokesperson for the Roald Dahl Story Company told Fox News, "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. Our guiding principle throughout has been to maintain the storylines, characters, and the irreverence and sharp-edged spirit of the original text. Any changes made have been small and carefully considered."

Fox reports that in December 2020, the Dahl family apologized for the "hurt" the author caused and released a statement that read. "The Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company deeply apologise for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by some of Roald Dahl’s statements."


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