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Roald Dahl Classic Collection to be released after criticism of recent editing

24 Feb 2023 3 minute read
Roald Dahl. Picture by Jürgen Wieshoff.

Puffin UK has announced the release of the Roald Dahl Classic Collection “to keep the author’s classic texts in print”, following criticism of recent editing of his work to remove potentially offensive language.

Classic books from the much-loved but controversial children’s author have been rewritten to cater for the sensitivities of modern audiences.

The Roald Dahl Story Company and Puffin Books carried out a review of Dahl’s classics which led to the removal or rewriting of content deemed offensive – including references to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race.

But critics including acclaimed author Sir Salman Rushdie and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak later condemned the changes.

Mischievous spirit

On Friday, 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.

“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.”

Archive material

The publishing company confirmed 17 of the Cardiff-born author’s titles will be published under the Penguin logo, including archive material relevant to each of the stories, and will be available later this year.

The titles include fan-favourites Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Matilda and Fantastic Mr Fox alongside The BFG and James And The Giant Peach.

The Roald Dahl Classic Collection will sit alongside the newly released Puffin Roald Dahl books for young readers and readers will be free to choose which version of Dahl’s stories they prefer.

A spokesperson for The Roald Dahl Story Company said: “The last few days have demonstrated just how important Roald Dahl’s stories are to fans all around the world, and we’ve been deeply moved by the strength of feeling.

“The most important thing to us is that the stories continue to be enjoyed by all. Puffin UK’s plan to print two editions of the book will give readers – whether seven or 77 – the choice to explore the stories in whichever way they wish.”

Dahl died in 1990 at the age of 74 but has regularly topped the list of the nation’s favourite authors. But his legacy has been marred by his antisemitic views.

In 2020, his family apologised, saying they recognised the “lasting and understandable hurt caused by Roald Dahl’s antisemitic statements”.

While His Dark Materials author Sir Philip Pullman suggested Dahl’s works should be left to “fade away” and go out of print as modern tastes move on.

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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 year ago

…I was heartbroken to find out a few years ago that the great man had a nasty antisemitic streak… It is my hope though, that the man who gave me so many worlds to escape into, the author that gave many of us so many joy-filled hours would be intelligent enough, kind-hearted enough, that if one were to sit him down and say something along the lines of “Hey look, the antisemitism stuff is rank, its the opposite of chill, no one of any worth likes it, Jewish people have been children too, so stop it…and we need to change… Read more »

1 year ago

Looks like the publisher had this planned all along.
Loads of free publicity and they’ll have two versions of the same books to flog.

Iago Prydderch
Iago Prydderch
1 year ago

These are just works of fiction and should be seen only as that. It’s not like revising history, for example, to deny the Holocaust. Works of art have always been reworked and adapted for different audiences. Even the dialogue in his books have been adapted for films just like all other works of fiction. Old films have always been remade to suit modern audiences who have different attention spans and also music and songs have been remixed or reworked with some crossing genres e.g. rock to jazz. If they were banning the original work then that would be censorship which… Read more »

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