- The language has been changed in the latest editions of several Roald Dahl books, The Telegraph reported.
- Sensitive readers removed words including “crazy,” “fat,” and “ugly” from the books.
- The Roald Dahl Story Company said the changes mean the books can be enjoyed by everyone.
The latest editions of Roald Dahl’s big children’s books have been changed to remove words like “fat,” “ugly,” and “mad,” The Telegraph first reported.
Roald Dahl, who died in 1990, is one of the most successful authors of all time. His 43 books—including more than 20 for children—have sold more than 250 million copies, according to WordsRated.
In a note at the beginning of the new editions, quoted by The Telegraph, publisher Puffin said that some texts had been rewritten to ensure that everyone can enjoy Dahl’s books today.
The Roald Dahl Story Company, which manages the copyright of Roald Dahl’s books and collaborated with Puffin to update the texts, said the “incongruity and incisive spirit” of the original books had not been lost.
Puffin and the Roald Dahl Story Company hired sensitivity readers from Inclusive Minds, which calls itself “a collective of people passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility in children’s literature”.
The word “fat” has been cut from all of Dahl’s children’s books, according to The Telegraph. Augustus Gloop, from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” is now simply “huge” rather than “very fat.” Aunt Sponge, from “James and the Giant Peach”, is no longer “the fat one”.
The word “ugly” has also been removed. Instead of being “ugly and beastly,” Mrs. Twit on “The Twits” is now simply “beastly.” Terms such as “insane” and “mad,” which Dahl also used frequently, were cut.
The new editions also try to modernize the women’s interpretation of the books. The suggestion that something might be “not like women” was changed to “unfamiliar” in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
References to “female” characters have also been replaced: In “Matilda,” Miss Trunchbull – who was once a “most formidable woman” – is a “most formidable woman”.
In “The Witches,” an article explains that the witches are now very afraid of their wigs: “There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.”
They also chose gender neutral terms where possible. “Mothers and fathers” have become “parents” and the “Cloud-Men” of “James and the Giant Peach” are now “Cloud-People”.
A representative for the Roald Dahl Story Company told Insider: “We want to make sure every child continues to enjoy Roald Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters today. When publishing new print series of books written years ago, it is not unusual to revise the language. along with updating other details including book cover and page layout Our guiding principle throughout was to maintain storylines, characters, and the indifference and sharp spirit of the original text.
“As part of our process to review the language used we worked in partnership with Inclusive Minds, a group of people who are passionate about inclusion and accessibility in children’s literature. The current review began in 2020, before Netflix acquired Dahl. under the direction of Puffin and Roald Dahl Story Company together.”
Netflix bought the rights to Dahl’s stories in October 2021 for an undisclosed sum estimated to be in the hundreds of millions.
Puffin and Inclusive Minds did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment made outside normal business hours.