Roald Dahl Wanted Chocolate Factory Hero Charlie to be Black

Paramount Pictures

Celebrated author Roald Dahl wanted his Charlie & The Chocolate Factory lead to be black.

The writer’s widow Liccy reveals her late husband always felt his beloved Charlie should be a “little black boy”, but according to Dahl’s biographer David Sturrock, his literary agent talked him out of the idea.

In a new BBC radio interview to mark what would have been Dahl’s 101st birthday, Liccy explained her husband introduced Charlie Bucket as a black kid.

“His first Charlie that he wrote about, you know, was a little black boy,” she said.

“It was his agent who thought it was a bad idea, when the book was first published, to have a black hero,” Sturrock added.

Liccy also revealed Roald wasn’t thrilled about the first movie adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which featured Gene Wilder as chocolate company boss Willy Wonka and Peter Ostrum as Charlie.

“He wasn’t very happy about Charlie, the original with Gene Wilder,” she said of the film, which was released in 1971 as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

The story was revamped by director Tim Burton’s after Dahl’s death, with Johnny Depp as Wonka and Freddie Highmore as Charlie, while Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville is set to portray the beloved children’s author in a new biopic.

Dahl died in 1990.

related content