New editions of Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s books are being rewritten to remove language deemed offensive by publisher Puffin Books, including the words “fat” and “ugly.” A note from Puffin at the beginning of the new editions reads: “The wonderful words of Roald Dahl can transport you to different worlds and introduce you to the most marvelous characters. This book was written many years ago, and so we regularly review the language to ensure that it can continue to be enjoyed by all today.” Some parents have shared screenshots of the note on Twitter, which expresses gratitude to the organization Inclusive Minds for introducing them to its network of inclusion ambassadors.
Inclusive Minds told The Epoch Times it is an organization that works in the children’s book world to support “authentic representation, primarily by connecting those in the industry with those who have lived experience of any or multiple facets of diversity.” The organization does not write, edit, or rewrite texts, but provides book creators with insight from people with relevant lived experience.
The Telegraph reportedly found hundreds of changes to Dahl’s original stories, including sentences that were not actually written by him. These changes include language relating to weight, mental health, gender, race, and violence. For example, the character Augustus Gloop in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is now referred to as “enormous” instead of “enormously fat,” while the “Cloud-Men” in “James and the Giant Peach” have been given gender-neutral terms and are now “Cloud-People.”
A spokesperson for the Roald Dahl Story Company said in a statement to Business Insider: “We want to ensure that Roald Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today. 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.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the rewriting of the beloved children’s books, with a spokesperson saying: “When it comes to our rich and varied literary heritage, the PM agrees with the BFG that you shouldn’t ‘gobblefunk’ around with words.” Dahl’s biographer, Matthew Dennison, believes the late author would have recognized that alterations to his novels prompted by the political climate were driven by adults rather than children and would have inspired the author’s derision or even contempt.
The Epoch Times has contacted Puffin for comment.