The release of a new Roald Dahl collection “to keep the author’s classic texts in print” has been announced, following recent criticism of edits of his work to remove potentially offensive language.
Publishers Puffin UK said that the 17 titles will be available later this year, and will include archived material relevant to each of the stories by the much-loved but controversial children’s author.
The classic collection will sit alongside the newly-released Roald Dahl books for young readers.
Last week, the Roald Dahl Story Company and Puffin Books confirmed they had carried out a review of Dahl’s classics to ensure they can be enjoyed by all children.
Puffin said that references within the books relating to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race have been cut and rewritten, to “cater for the sensitivities of modern audiences”.
Edits reportedly included removing the word “fat” from every book – Augustus Gloop in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory is instead described as “enormous” – and The Cloud-Men in James And The Giant Peach have become “Cloud-People”.
The reports of edits to Dahl’s venerated works came as a shock to many who had been childhood fans.
Following the announcement, Downing Street said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had concerns about rewriting the books – and quoted Dahl’s BFG in a warning not to “gobblefunk” with words.
Booker Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie also claimed that the edits are “absurd censorship” while others said the publishers should be ashamed.
Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America, a community of over 7,000 writers advocating for freedom of expression, said she was “alarmed” by the reported changes, warning that the power to rewrite books could soon be abused.
Laura Hackett, deputy editor of the Sunday Times, said she will be keeping hold of her original Dahl copies, so that her children “can enjoy them in their full, nasty, colourful glory”.
The Roald Dahl Story Company claimed their review process has been ongoing since 2020 and that any edits were “small and carefully considered”.
They worked in collaboration with Puffin and Inclusive Minds, a collective for people working towards inclusion and accessibility in children’s literature.
Dahl died in 1990 at the age of 74 but has regularly topped the list of the nation’s favourite authors. However, he was a controversial figure due to antisemitic comments made throughout his life.
In 2020, his family apologised, saying they recognised the “lasting and understandable hurt caused by Roald Dahl’s anti-Semitic statements”.
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