Following the uproar and “debate” over the decision to republish Roald Dahl’s children’s books with less offensive language, the author’s estate and publisher have announced that they would re-release those same books with the original text intact.

Earlier this month, the Roald Dahl Story Company and publishers Puffin announced that “sensitivity readers” had recommended hundreds of edits to Dahl’s books, ranging from minor changes — like altering the description of Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from “fat” to “enormous,” and replacing the word “female” throughout Matilda with “woman” — to the rewriting of entire passages that were deemed offensive and non-inclusive.

The decision, obviously, sparked controversy and accusations of censorship from free speech groups and the writer’s organization PEN America. “Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed,” the author Salman Rushdie tweeted. Even U.K. prime minister Rishi Sunak slammed the edits, noting that fiction should be “preserved and not airbrushed.”

As a result, Puffin and its parent company Penguin Random House U.K. announced that — alongside the edited versions of Dahl’s children’s books — they would also release “The Roald Dahl Classic Collection,” which will feature 17 stories with Dahl’s original text.

“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,” Francesca Dow, MD of Penguin Random House Children’s, said in a statement (via Variety).

“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 recognize 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, marvelous stories.”

A spokesperson for the Roald Dahl Story Company previously said of the changes in a statement, “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.”


However, some edits were viewed as trivial and unnecessary following news of the republishing, including changing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s Oompa Loompas, described as “small men” in the original text, are now the more-gender neutral “small people.” Also, the changing of the description of that book’s Augustus Gloop was perceived as reducing the gluttonous nature of that character and thus the lesson he learns soon after.

“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,” Dow added.


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