After public outrage and a call from the United Kingdom’s Queen Consort Camilla, the publisher of Roald Dahl’s books announced it would alter its original plan to censor the acclaimed British author’s books and would offer both original and censored versions of Dahl’s work.
Puffin, the publisher of Dahl’s books, said in a statement Friday it will make both the original and censored versions available, after announcing hundreds of changes to Dahl’s books earlier this week including adding gender-neutral terms and removing the word “fat.”
While some of Dahl’s language was edited, other references were removed altogether, in an effort to update Dahl’s works and so the “stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today,” the Roald Dahl Story Company said.
The announcement comes less than a day after the Queen Consort joined the widespread outrage over the changes and reportedly spoke in support of the right to free speech at a reading event at Clarence House on Thursday, urging writers to “remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression.”
Among the proposed changes was a switch from “small men” to “small people” when describing the Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and removing the word “fat” and the word “ugly” from all of Dahl’s books, the Independent reported.
In The Witches, The Telegraph reported a total of 59 changes, including an addition to explain that there are multiple reasons why women might wear wigs after the 2001 version of the story describes witches who are bald beneath their wigs.
The phrase “I was her slave” which appears in the 2001 version of Matilda was among the phrases removed, according to The Telegraph.
The RDSC said it worked alongside Puffin Books and Inclusive Minds—a group that aims to make children’s literature accessible and inclusive—to make small changes to Dahl’s stories.
Camilla was not the only one to speak out, many were quick to criticize the RDSC’s decision to make changes. Earlier this week U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the move saying,”it’s important that works of literature and worlds of fiction are preserved and not airbrushed.” Dahl previously made headlines in 2020 after RDSC and Dahl’s family apologized for the author’s antisemitism saying his comments caused “lasting and understandable hurt.” There were multiple instances of Dahl being antisemtic in interviews, including in a 1983 New Statesmen interview where he said, “Hitler didn’t just pick on [Jewish people] for no reason.” “Those prejudiced remarks are incomprehensible to us and stand in marked contrast to the man we know and to the values at the heart of Roald Dahl’s stories, which have positively impacted young people for generations,” the RDSC 2020 statement said.
$513 million. That’s how much Dahl earned in 2021. Dahl, who died in 1990, was the highest-earning dead celebrity of 2021, according to Forbes, after Netflix paid a reported $684 million for the Roald Dahl Story Company that year.
In 2021, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced that six of the author’s books would no longer be published because of insensitive and racist imagery. “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” the group said in a statement.