Roald Dahl’s popular children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is deeply familiar to generations of readers. But the beloved book, about a poor young boy who wins a golden ticket to tour the magical candy factory of reclusive genius Willy Wonka, almost looked markedly different.
On Wednesday, Dahl’s widow, Liccy Dahl, told BBC Radio 4 that when her late husband originally dreamed up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it starred “a little black boy.” As to why that was changed, she said, “I don’t know. It’s a great pity.”
The answer came from Dahl’s biographer Donald Sturrock, who explained “it was his agent who thought it was a bad idea, when the book was first published, to have a black hero.”
The agent in question, though not specified in the BBC interview, was likely Sheila St. Lawrence. She’s been credited, along with her predecessor Ann Watkins, with being a significant influence on Dahl throughout their working relationship. In 2014, Sturrock told Vanity Fair that St. Lawrence worked closely with the children’s book author on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, urging him to trim down the zany, winding narrative and its initially immense cast of characters.
She also, it seems, changed Dahl’s mind about making Charlie Bucket a black boy. “She said people would ask: ‘Why?’” Sturrock said.
Dinner with the Twits, an interactive theatrical dining experience that invites its audience to the worst dinner party in the world at the residence of the revolting Mr. and Mrs. Twit, will premiere at London’s The Vaults.
It will begin performances September 4 prior to an official opening September 14, for a run through October 30.
Presented by Les Enfants Terribles and ebp—the team behind Alice’s Adventures Underground that was Olivier-nominated for its run—in association with Bompas & Parr and Creature of London, it marks the first time one of Roald Dahl’s titles has been adapted into a production specifically for adults.
According to press materials, the evening will include a banquet of deliciously disgusting dishes, to be enjoyed with homemade cocktails, Mr. Twit’s special brew and Mrs. Twit’s potent punch.
Produced by Emma Brünjes, James Seager and Oliver Lansley with Creature of London, it is directed by Emma Earle, written by Oliver Lansley and Anthony Spargo and designed by Sam Wyer.
In a press statement, Lansley commented, “We are delighted to be presenting the first adaptation specifically created for adults of one of Roald Dahl’s hugely adored children’s books. We never really lose our sense of play, our relish in the bizarre and revolting. Dinner at the Twits will give adults the opportunity to explore those boundaries between disgust and delight, to come up close and personal with the hideous hairy Twits and to be taken on a multisensory journey through Dahl’s beguilingly bizarre world.”
A photographer has spoken exclusively about the moment he came face to face with one of the world’s best-loved authors – Roald Dahl.
John Stewart Farrier, who has captured many illustrious faces on film including Margaret Thatcher, Sir Cliff Richard and John Lennon, has released some previously unseen images of [Roald Dahl].
from Kent Online’s report:
Mr Farrier describes the moment they met: “It was raining heavily on the day I arrived at Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire – the home of Roald Dahl – author, fighter pilot and screenwriter.
“I was looking forward to this photographic session, especially when my daughter Sarah was one of his greatest fans.
“I tapped on the front door – it suddenly opened and there was Roald greeting me saying ‘I don’t like people with beards, they have something to hide’.”
He says that there was tension as he entered Roald’s hallway and he thought it would be a quick, abrupt session with little conversation, but it wasn’t long before the ball started rolling and the chat started flowing.
Mr Farrier said: “Roald said ‘thank god we are not talking about my books and I certainly don’t want to be photographed in my garden hut. Everyone does that’.
“I said it suited me fine and told him to just lounge around on the sofa. He said he was going to have a cigarette while we chatted. I asked him ‘have you always been such a grumpy old man?’ as I hid behind my Nikon camera waiting for an immediate reply asking me to leave… but it never happened.
“We both began to laugh and thereafter it was just magic – the ice had broken.”
Two further photos of Dahl via Roald Dahl photographer John Stewart Farrier describes day he spent with the great children's author.
Excellent piece by Lucy Mangan in yesterday’s Guardian Review
What we think of as the "real" Dahl is there, moving underneath the story like a shark but only occasionally breaking the surface to show his grinning teeth (one mother objects to her child being made into fudge on the grounds that "we’ve spent far too much on his education already"). But it is only after a letter from his former agent and confidante Sheila St Lawrence that you can see him start to really trust his instincts. Although she says now that "he was going to get there anyway … If someone else hadn’t alerted him, I’m quite sure he would have alerted himself", she made a variety of specific suggestions – including making the uniformed assistants "something more surprising than they are" – but also encouraged him more generally to let rip. "I’d like to see more humour, more light, Dahlesque touches throughout," ends the letter. "I hope some of my remarks will produce counter remarks in you that will stir you to flights of fancy to make the book take off and really fly, as it undoubtedly will."
And it did. It was published in the US in 1964 and sold 10,000 copies in the first week (and was acclaimed as "fertile in invention, rich in humour, acutely observant … he lets his imagination rip in fairyland" in the New York Times), and has been pretty much flying off the shelves ever since.
A striking portrait of the author Roald Dahl, created in the aftermath of tragedy in the second world war, is now on display at the National Portrait Gallery. The artist, Matthew Smith, painted a grave image of Dahl in his RAF uniform at a time when both their lives had been scarred by the war. The portrait has been treasured by Dahl’s family ever since, and has only been exhibited once before.
A first edition copy of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” that contains author J.K. Rowling’s notes and original illustrations fetched 150,000 pounds ($228,000) at a London auction on Tuesday.
Sotheby’s said the work, offered as part of a charity book sale jointly organized with the English PEN writers’ association, was sold to an anonymous bidder by telephone.
Rowling peppered the book with many personal annotations, including editorial decisions, comments on the process of writing and a note on how she came to create the game of Quidditch.
She also drew about two dozen illustrations in the copy, including a sleeping baby Harry on a door step and an Albus Dumbledore Chocolate Frog card.
In addition, a copy of Roald Dahl’s best-selling children’s book “Matilda” containing new drawings by illustrator Quentin Blake fetched 30,000 pounds ($45,500), while an annotated copy of Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed novel “The Remains of the Day” was sold for 18,000 pounds ($27,300).