Charlie Bucket, the young hero from Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ was originally black, his widow has revealed.
Speaking in an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme, which coincided with what would have been Dahl’s 101st birthday, Liccy Dahl said: “His first Charlie that he wrote about was a little black boy. I’m sure that was influenced by America.”
Asked why he changed his mind, she said: “I don’t know. It’s a great pity.”
Donald Sturrock, Dahl’s biographer, who was also speaking in the interview, added: “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.”
Liccy went on to say that it would have been ‘wonderful’ to see the book with a black hero, as Dahl had initially intended.
The book has been adapted for the big screen twice, once by Tim Burton in 2005, and by Mel Stuart in 1971, with Gene Wilder as the eccentric confectioner.
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) September 13, 2017
But Dahl was apparently not enamoured with the performance, the only movie adaptation which happened while he was still alive.
“He wasn’t very happy about Charlie, the original with Gene Wilder, that was only really the film that was made.
“After he died the first film to be made was James And The Giant Peach and then we were inundated with requests,” added Liccy.