“She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.”- Matilda
Matilda Wormwood is the clever, brave, book-loving girl who gives her name to one of Roald Dahl’s last published stories: Matilda.
So clever is Matilda that by the age of four, she has read all the children’s books in her local library. By the time she begins school aged five she has graduated to Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling. What’s more, she can multiply large numbers with no trouble and can compose and recite limericks with barely a breath. Her schoolteacher Miss Honey thinks she’s a genius.
Unfortunately, her parents aren’t so impressed. Mr and Mrs Wormwood completely fail to appreciate her incredible abilities – but luckily for Matilda, this also means they never fail to fall for her tricks…
Because as well as being very clever, Matilda is no stranger to a spot of mischief. From super-gluing hats to hiding a parrot up a chimney, she makes her hapless parents pay for their indifference and stupidity in a number of subtle ways.
It’s headmistress Miss Trunchbull she saves her greatest trick for, though…
Matilda ultimately uses her incredible powers to help Miss Honey, but in earlier drafts of the story she was actually a “wicked” girl who terrorised her parents and teachers. Roald soon realised this wasn’t right, though, and the Matilda we all know and love first appeared in print in 1988.
Since its first publication, Matilda has been adapted into a cult 1996 film, with Mara Wilson playing Miss Wormwood. And in 2010, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s musical adaptation of the book with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin opened at Stratford-upon-Avon. A phenomenal success, the musical went on to open in London’s West End the following year, on Broadway in 2013, and is set to take Australia by storm in 2015.
As Matilda herself sings in the musical adaptation – “Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.”
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter and fighter pilot.
Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, Dahl served in the Royal Air Force during World War II, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence officer, rising to the rank of acting Wing Commander. He rose to prominence in the 1940s with works for both children and adults and became one of the world’s best-selling authors.
He has been referred to as ‘one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century’. Among his awards for contribution to literature, he received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1983, and Children’s Author of the Year from the British Book Awards in 1990. In 2008, The Times placed Dahl 16th on its list of The 50 greatest British writers since 1945.
He is the author of most loved children’s books Charile and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Gorge’s Marvelous Medicine and many more.
Like his Grandmother, the young male narrator of Roald Dahl’s 1983 story The Witches doesn’t have a name, although in the later film adaptation he was called Luke. His mice have names though – William and Mary, which is itself the title of a short story in the Kiss Kiss collection, first published in 1960.
Like many of Roald Dahl’s young heroes and heroines, he is resilient, resourceful and, above all, brave. His reaction when he discovers The Grand High Witch’s terrible plan against the children of England is to do all he can to stop them – even after he gets some first-hand experience of Formula 86 Delayed Action Mouse-Maker…
In the 1990 film adaptation, ‘Luke’ was played by Jasen Fisher. The film also differed from the book in that the ending was changed – in Roald Dahl’s original story, The Grand High Witch’s spell was never reversed, leaving The Boy to live out his days as a mouse, telling his Grandmother: “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like so long as somebody loves you.”
James Henry Trotter
“After James Henry Trotter had been living with his aunts for three whole years there came a morning when something rather peculiar happened to him.” – James and the Giant Peach
James Henry Trotter is the lead character in Roald Dahl’s first well-known children’s book, James and the Giant Peach, which was first published in 1961. Since then the story has been adapted as an animated film in 1996, and as a children’s play by David Wood.
When we first meet him, James is a lonely boy living with his two aunts “in a queer ramshackle house on the top of a high hill in the south of England.” This is because, right at the beginning of the story, poor James is orphaned when his parents are killed by an angry rhinoceros.
His aunts are horrible. They make James do all the cleaning and never let him away from the house to meet other children or make friends.
But James’s luck starts to change when he meets a mysterious old man who hands him a magical gift that will change his life – and introduce James to some of the most unusual friends a young boy could ever have…
Danny is the title character in Roald Dahl’s 1975 book, Danny, the Champion of the World. He’s also the narrator of the story, which follows the adventures and incidents of his young life living in a gipsy caravan next to the filling station where his beloved father works.
Outside of school (where he has to deal with the terrifying Captain Lancaster and “the dreaded cane”), Danny has a happy life. He helps his Dad in the filling station, listens to his amazing bedtime stories at night (including tales of The Big Friendly Giant) and even offers a valuable helping hand with his father’s poaching exploits, coming up with the idea that eventually costs Victor Hazell a few hundred pheasants.
So he’s resourceful – and brave, too. Not only does he dream up this great pheasant-catching idea, he also helps his Dad carry it out. And, when his father is caught in one of Victor Hazell’s traps for poachers, Danny is quick to notice his absence and shoots off to the rescue in a Baby Austin
Of all his stories, Danny, the Champion of the World is one of Roald Dahl’s most autobiographical and is said to have been one of his favorites.
Charlie Bucket appears in two of Roald Dahl’s stories: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – which has been adapted into two films, an opera and a stage musical – and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
Charlie lives with his mother, his father and his four grandparents in a little wooden house near a great town. Well, he does the first time we meet him, anyway.
Charlie and his family don’t have much money. That means they don’t have much to eat, which makes the fact that there is a great big chocolate factory in his very own town all the more difficult for poor Charlie. Because more than anything else Charlie loves chocolate – Wonka chocolate especially. His very favorite is the Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight bar. You could even say this is his lucky bar. It is, after all, the bar that changes Charlie’s life…
When he finds a golden ticket in that Wonka chocolate bar, Charlie’s luck starts to change. From touring Mr Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory to bursting through its roof in the Great Glass Elevator, that little flash of gold is only the beginning of his adventures. Mr Wonka personally escorts him round his chocolate factory – then appoints him as his successor. He visits outer space with his entire family – and ends up outsmarting some very unpleasant Vermicious Knids. He witnesses his old grandparents return all the way to babyhood after some ill-advised experiments with Wonka Vite. Then, to top it all off, he gets invited to dinner at the White House.
And yet throughout all of his adventures, little Charlie keeps his cool. He really is, as Grandpa George says in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, “a fine little fellow.”
Pics and information: http://www.roalddahl.com