Roald Dahl censorship dangers
books,  News,  parenting

Why censoring Roald Dahl is a dangerous step

Augustus Gloop is fat. The Witches are terrifying old hags and the Oompa Loompas are small men.

Born of the imagination of Roald Dahl, they are – together with Dahl’s countless other masterfully crafted heroes and villains – the legendary characters that have fascinated, entertained and terrified generations of children, myself included.

However, Dahl’s publisher, Puffin, has deemed many of the author’s words unfit for modern children and edited the latest editions of his works to remove ‘sensitive’ references.

So, as of today, Augustus Gloop is no longer fat, he is ‘enormous.’ The Oompa Loompas, meanwhile, are gender neutral and the Twits are less ugly than they once were.

And in one step, Puffin has removed an element of the Dahl magic for his young readers, denying them the chance to read his timeless stories as he intended. The result is sanitised, modernised Dahl for a time that is more concerned with not offending people, than it is with maintaining literary integrity.

I personally hate the term ‘woke,’ I think it is in itself a meaningless word that is used to describe the principle of protecting society from itself, by always playing it safe, never taking risks and erring on the side of sensitivity and caution.

But no one should have the right to change the words of a beloved author, out of fear of causing offence.

Yes, Dahl was no saint. Criticised for anti-Semitic views, much of what he believed certainly wouldn’t fit in with modern society. But neither, I expect, would the views of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie or any author from any era of history. Because that’s the point, they were of their time, not today.

Let’s not forget, Romeo is 16 and Juliet is 13. Shakespeare wrote a love story involving underage children and suicide. What would Puffin make of that today?

Changing Dahl’s words for modern day children is fundamentally wrong and one step closer to an Orwellian future. More importantly though, it’s taking away the magic for youngsters reading Dahl for the first time.

I remember as a child, being repulsed by The Twits and terrified of the Witches. I pictured Augustus Gloop as a hugely fat blob of a child, and the Oompa Loompas as little men, running around Willy Wonka’s factory.

I feel so sad to think that tomorrow’s children will picture them differently and that the words they read won’t trigger the same emotions as I felt. So, I’ll be keeping all my original editions for my children and their children, and I urge you to do the same.


  • Michael Wilson

    I completely agree that we shouldn’t be censoring any literary work. Ronald Dahl’s books were down of my favourites as a child and also with censorship where does it end as there will always be someone somewhere who takes offence to a particular element in a story. ❤️

    • Tim B

      I think the issue is that society today is so terrified of offending anybody, that it does everything it can to make things as ‘safe’ as possible in order not to offend…which inevitably just makes everthing dull and identical!

  • Guestspeaker

    Reblogged this on Some View on the World and commented:
    We ourselves also do not like the term ‘woke,’ of which it took us a long time before we got to know what it really meant. In any case, we have come to the conclusion that “woke” is a present way of covering up, or to gloss over censorship.

    It is best for the older generation to keep track of formerly published works so that in a few decades’ time, we will still be able to present the necessary evidence of the absurd twisted situation of today’s written press and the culture of fear of certain words and sounds.

  • Inner Musings

    I was around 14 when I read The Witches. I found it intriguing, fascinating, Dahl’s use of vocabulary made some parts of the story funny. Made me both terrified yet amused me at the same time. I feel the same way about his books today, nearing 29 years old. What’s next, censoring Shakespeare or Tolkien? When does it end? Like you said, no one has the right to change an author’s books. If people will find a book offensive, simply won’t read it anymore. I don’t want sanitized books, thanks. Like yourself, I’ll stick with the originals. 🙂

    • Tim B

      I love The Witches too, but it was the Twits who always scared me the most, something about all the things in Mr Twit’s beard!

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.