In a recent interview with BBC Radio 4, it was revealed by Roald Dahl’s widow that the main character in his classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was intended to be a black child.
The children’s book was adapted into two different films – the 1971 version and the 2005 version. Both featured a white actor as the main character.
Dahl’s widow, Liccy Dahl, stated in the September 13 interview that her husband was not at all happy about the adaptation of his book. As to why it was changed, she said, “I don’t know. It’s a great pity.”
“He wasn’t very happy about Charlie, the original with Gene Wilder,” she said of the 1971 film.
According to the Huntington Post, Dahl’s book agent, Sheila St. Lawrence, was the one to convince him to change the character’s rice. Dahl’s biographer Donald Sturrock says of Lawrence, “She said people would ask ‘Why?’”
It’s quite possible that the whole Bucket family was intended to be black as well. Liccy hinted in the interview that the character’s race should be changed.
Additionally, when the book was first released, the Oompa Loompas were intended to be African pygmies. Eventually, they were changed into the orange-colored workers that we’re familiar with now.
“I saw them as charming creatures, whereas the white kids in the books were … most unpleasant,” Dahl said.
What do you think about the adaptations made to Dahl’s original masterpiece?