BREAKING NEWS! Roald Dahl just published a new chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!
No, really, the original Chapter 5, “The Vanilla Fudge Room,” was just published by The Guardian on August 29th. It’s an early chapter that was rejected as too subversive for innocent British children.
For those of us who try to write children’s literature, what a treat! I was thrilled to see that I am not the only person who futzes around with character names. Futzing is one of my favorite write-y things to do, for characters and flavors and places and everything else. Veruca Salt’s original name was Elvira Entwhistle. Violet Beauregarde was Violet Strabismus. (Strabismus is an eye disorder in which the eyes cross. Was Violet cross-eyed? What was Dahl thinking there?) Augustus Gloop used to be Augustus Pottle. And the factory workers are just workers. They turned into Oompa Loompas in a later version.
I was also very interested to note that Mr. Dahl dealt with a common problem for a lot of us writers: too many characters. He originally had eight children with Charlie, and later the cast was cut to just four.
I hope you will take the time to read Lucy Mangan’s wonderful article, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at 50,” also published in The Guardian on August 29th. She discusses the development of the book from early drafts to the final draft, thanks to the encouragement Dahl received to let his imagination really fly. She also gives us a few paragraphs on the history of the children’s literature industry, complete with the very conservative Anglophile establishment, the original African Oompa Loompas, and framing Charlie as a fairy tale at its most elemental. Mangan is publishing a book called Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory: The Complete Story of Willy Wonka, the Golden Ticket, and Roald Dahl’s Most Famous Creation, available on September 9th.
Read the sweet, fudgy lost chapter and enjoy the delicious illustrations by Quentin Blake!
Read the accompanying article, too: “Lost chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory published.”