Puffin UK has announced the release of the Roald Dahl Classic Collection “to keep the author’s classic texts in print”, following criticism of recent editing of his work to remove potentially offensive language.
Classic books from the much-loved but controversial children’s author have been rewritten to cater for the sensitivities of modern audiences.
The Roald Dahl Story Company and Puffin Books carried out a review of Dahl’s classics which led to the removal or rewriting of content deemed offensive – including references to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race.
But critics including acclaimed author Sir Salman Rushdie and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak later condemned the changes.
On Friday, Francesca Dow managing director of Penguin Random House Children’s, said: “At Puffin we have proudly published Roald Dahl’s stories for more than 40 years in partnership with the Roald Dahl Story Company. Their mischievous spirit and his unique storytelling genius have delighted the imaginations of readers across many generations.
“We’ve listened to the debate over the past week which has reaffirmed the extraordinary power of Roald Dahl’s books and the very real questions around how stories from another era can be kept relevant for each new generation.
Today we announce the Roald Dahl Classic Collection, which will keep Dahl’s classic texts in print. Find more detail here: https://t.co/8IdAOcoJfw
— PuffinBooks (@PuffinBooks) February 24, 2023
“As a children’s publisher, our role is to share the magic of stories with children with the greatest thought and care. Roald Dahl’s fantastic books are often the first stories young children will read independently, and taking care for the imaginations and fast-developing minds of young readers is both a privilege and a responsibility.
“We also recognise the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print. By making both Puffin and Penguin versions available, we are offering readers the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvellous stories.
“Roald Dahl once said: ‘If my books can help children become readers, then I feel I have accomplished something important’. At Puffin, we’ll keep pursuing that ambition for as long as we make books.”
The publishing company confirmed 17 Dahl titles will be published under the Penguin logo, including archive material relevant to each of the stories, and will be available later this year.
Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed. https://t.co/sdjMfBr7WW
— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) February 18, 2023
The titles include fan-favourites Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Matilda and Fantastic Mr Fox alongside The BFG and James And The Giant Peach.
The Roald Dahl Classic Collection will sit alongside the newly released Puffin Roald Dahl books for young readers and readers will be free to choose which version of Dahl’s stories they prefer.
A spokesperson for The Roald Dahl Story Company said: “The last few days have demonstrated just how important Roald Dahl’s stories are to fans all around the world, and we’ve been deeply moved by the strength of feeling.
“The most important thing to us is that the stories continue to be enjoyed by all. Puffin UK’s plan to print two editions of the book will give readers – whether seven or 77 – the choice to explore the stories in whichever way they wish.”
Dahl died in 1990 at the age of 74 but has regularly topped the list of the nation’s favourite authors. But his legacy has been marred by his antisemitic views.
In 2020, his family apologised, saying they recognised the “lasting and understandable hurt caused by Roald Dahl’s antisemitic statements”.
While His Dark Materials author Sir Philip Pullman suggested Dahl’s works should be left to “fade away” and go out of print as modern tastes move on.