Roald Dahl’s classic books will now be republished without ‘woke’ editing after a huge outcry that saw the King’s wife Camilla wade in at a reception where she was cheered by Britain’s best-selling authors.
Puffin has been under fire over changes to many of his most famous children’s classics as critics including the Queen Consort demanded they do not put curbs on ‘freedom of expression’.
Today the publisher has announced the release of the Roald Dahl Classic Collection ‘to keep the author’s classic texts in print’ claiming they had ‘listened to the debate’ following criticism of recent changing of his work to remove words such as ‘fat’.
But these unedited versions will still sit alongside the newly-released Roald Dahl books, which have been controversially rewritten – sparking outrage in Britain. Some have said that Puffin must still go further, and cancel the new censored versions completely.
It came as new polling for MailOnline by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found almost two out of three Britons (60%) disagree with changing language in classic children’s books and 63% opposed recent changes to the books of Roald Dahl. Just 20% supported the edits.
The latest editions of Mr Dahl’s children’s books have been edited to remove language which could be deemed offensive – Puffin says they will now republish them unedited too
Queen Consort Camilla waded into the ongoing literary debate over Roald Dahl’s publisher rewriting passages of his children’s books, as she welcomed guests to her literary reception yesterday
Dahl’s 17 books, read and loved by tens of millions, will be available later this year and will include archive material relevant to each of the stories by the much-loved children’s author.
Camilla’s comments at Clarence House yesterday were greeted by laughter and chants of ‘hear, hear!’ from Richard Osman, Sebastian Faulks, William Boyd, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Ben Okri and Charlie Mackesy. Her intervention is being credited with forcing a partial U-turn. Sir Salman Rushdie and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have also condemned the changes.
Puffin has sparked a revisionism row after they decided that words such as ‘fat’ should be removed – Augustus Gloop can now be referred to only as ‘enormous’ – and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’s Oompa Loompas being made gender neutral.
How editors changed Roald Dahl’s stories
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
2001 – Mrs Salt was a great fat creature with short legs, and she was blowing like a rhinoceros
2022 – Mrs Salt was so out of breath, she was blowing like a rhinoceros
2001 – Mrs Twit may have been ugly and she may have been beastly, but she was not stupid
2022 – Mrs Twit may have been beastly, but she was not stupid.
2001 – Get your mother or father
2022 – Get your family
2001 – ‘BFG,’ she said, ‘would you please tell these rather dim-witted characters exactly what to do.’
2022 – ‘BFG,’ she said, ‘would you please tell them exactly what to do’.
THE ENORMOUS CROCODILE
2001 – We eat little boys and girls
2022 – We eat little children
2001 – ‘I beg you to tell me Mr Hoppy! I’ll be your slave for life.’
2022 – ‘I beg you to tell me Mr Hoppy! You’ll be my hero for life.’
FANTASTIC MR FOX
2001 – Bunce, the little pot-bellied dwarf, looked up at Bean…
2022 – Bunce looked up at Bean…
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH
2001 – They were like a couple of hunters who had just shot an elephant
2022 – They were like a couple of hunters who had just shot their prey
Mrs Twit’s ‘fearful ugliness’ has been cut to ‘ugliness’ and Mrs Hoppy in Esio Trot is not an ‘attractive middle-aged lady’ but a ‘kind middle-aged lady’.
Passages not written by Dahl, who died in 1990, have also been added by the publisher.
In 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.’
Puffin said in a statement this afternoon that they will release two versions of each book – the original and the newer edited ones.
Francesca Dow managing director of Penguin Random House Children’s, said: “At Puffin we have proudly published Roald Dahl’s stories for more than 40 years in partnership with the Roald Dahl Story Company. Their mischievous spirit and his unique storytelling genius have delighted the imaginations of readers across many generations.
‘We’ve listened to the debate over the past week which has reaffirmed the extraordinary power of Roald Dahl’s books and the very real questions around how stories from another era can be kept relevant for each new generation.
‘As a children’s publisher, our role is to share the magic of stories with children with the greatest thought and care. Roald Dahl’s fantastic books are often the first stories young children will read independently, and taking care for the imaginations and fast-developing minds of young readers is both a privilege and a responsibility.
‘We also recognise the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print. By making both Puffin and Penguin versions available, we are offering readers the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvellous stories.’
She added: ‘Roald Dahl once said: ‘If my books can help children become readers, then I feel I have accomplished something important’. At Puffin, we’ll keep pursuing that ambition for as long as we make books’.
Yesterday Camilla spoke out at a reception with many of Britain’s top writers amid anger that publishers have hired ‘sensitivity gurus’ to remove ‘offensive’ language in Dahl’s books.
She told the authors: ‘Please remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or impose limits on your imagination.’ The 73-year-old royal looked up with a mischievous smile and added: ‘Enough said.’
Her comments were greeted by laughter and cheers of ‘hear, hear!’ from the best-selling authors, including Sebastian Faulks, William Boyd, Ben Okri, Philippa Gregory and Charlie Mackesy.
The Queen Consort told them: ‘Let there be no squeaking like mice about your achievements, but only roaring like a pride of lions.’
She was speaking at a reception at Clarence House yesterday.
During her speech Camilla wadded in on the debate surrounding author Roald Dahl’s (pictured) sensitivity rewrite
In her speech Camilla quoted John Steinbeck, who said: ‘I am impelled, not to squeak like a grateful and apologetic mouse, but to roar like a lion out of pride in my profession’
Puffin says it made the changes so that Dahl’s works ‘can continue to be enjoyed by all today’.
The Queen Consort – an avid reader and champion of improving literacy rates, particularly for children – was backed last night by a host of authors.
They argued that the works of writers such as Dahl should be preserved as products of their time.
William Boyd, the author of Any Human Heart, said: ‘If you ask children why they like Roald Dahl, it’s because he is naughty and transgressive, so you end up throwing the baby out with the bath water.’
Peter James, one of the world’s best-selling crime writers, added: ‘There is an old tradition in publishing, of publish and be damned. And I think Her Majesty was just endorsing that to some extent. She was just saying “be brave”.
‘The big question is how far back are we going to go? Are we going to censor Dickens? There is some pretty tough stuff in Dickens that is quite offensive. Are we going to look at Shakespeare?
‘I think what we have got to accept is that it was a moment in time and this is now. We are so blessed to have the Queen Consort championing us.’
In the new version of The Twits, Mrs Twit’s ‘fearful ugliness’ has been chopped to ‘ugliness’
Publishers Puffin and the Roald Dahl Story Company have changed how Gloop (pictured far left in 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) is described, with the character no longer called fat in new versions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
In The Witches (pictured), ‘old hag’ has been changed to ‘old crow’, while ‘you must be mad, woman’ is now ‘you must be out of your mind’
Richard Osman, the author of the best-selling novel The Thursday Murder Club, agreed, adding: ‘My view is one only: the more we read the better.
‘I try to write the most entertaining book I can. You always have to bear in mind your audience.
‘That’s why a book from the 19th century is different to a book from the 20th century, is different to a book from the 21st century. That’s what literature is. It reflects what’s in the artist’s heart and what’s in the reader’s heart.’
Actor and writer Richard E Grant added: ‘I’ve always thought what’s amazing about Britain is that there’s no restriction on freedom of speech.
‘You go back just ten years in literature and there is something that wouldn’t be acceptable now.’
Ben Okri, the Booker Prize-winning author of The Famished Road, praised the Queen Consort’s decision to set up her Reading Room, describing it as a ‘wonderful idea’.
He said: ‘Kings and Queens and princes on the whole are not famous for being champions of literature. Often they are afraid of literature, for some reason or another. Literature is very bold and very questioning.
‘So to have a Queen who supports reading and literacy is a really great sign of openness in the culture. We need it, we need that support on all levels of society.
‘Many of us writers were amazed when she talked about echoing the lion’s roar. That’s a very seductive thing to say to writers. Because we are constantly aware that our roar could get us into trouble.’
Gyles Brandreth, a trustee of the Queen’s Reading Room, revealed that around 40 years ago he shared a train journey with Dahl.
He recalled: ‘We had a disagreement about something, and I remember him saying to me, “It’s quite possible to disagree with somebody but still find them interesting, isn’t it?”’
Camilla was joined yesterday by King Charles as she urged all the authors gathered to take ‘the most enormous pride’ in their profession and in the part they play in opening readers’ eyes to others’ experiences.
Her online book club has become so successful it is now being turned into a charity to foster a love of literature among adults and children around the world.
It also aims to close the gap between writers and readers through accessible, educational and free literary content.
The Queen’s Reading Room will hold its first literary festival at Hampton Court in June.
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