Charlie of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Was Originally Black

Roald Dahl

Charlie of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Was Originally Black

The Roald Dahl Literary Estate is excited to announce an original collaboration with toy giant LEGO in celebration of Roald Dahl Day, the annual celebration of the iconic children's author on the anniversary of his birthday.

It's apparently Roald Dahl Day over in the United Kingdom and BBC Radio 4's Today had the author's widow, Liccy Dahl, and his biographer, Donald Sturrock, on for a talk.

Asked why that had been changed, she said: 'I don't know. "It's a great pity".

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The author's biographer Donald Sturrock, who was also being interviewed, said the change was decided upon by Dahl's agent who thought a poor white boy would appeal more to the audience.

He told the program: "I can tell you that it was his agent who thought it was a bad idea, when the book was first published, to have a black hero". She said people would ask why'.

Watch the entire interview with Dahl and Sturrock below.

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Presenter Sarah Montague suggested that the story could now be rewritten to revert to a black character, to which Mrs Dahl said: 'It would be wonderful wouldn't it?'

"In the version first published, [the Oompa-Loompas were] a tribe of 3,000 amiable black pygmies who have been imported by Mr. Willy Wonka from 'the very deepest and darkest part of the African jungle where no white man had been before, '" author Jeremy Treglown wrote in his biography of Dahl.

The film, starring Gene Wilder, avoided the issue of race altogether, making them green-haired and orange-skinned. And frankly it's unnerving to imagine how somebody who originally wrote the Oompa Loompas as he did would've written a black protagonist.

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The Bookseller said past year that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remains the biggest-selling book of Dahl's, selling 990,711 copies.

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