Little Charlie Bucket, from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was intended to be black, Dahl’s widow has revealed.
“His first Charlie that he wrote about was a little black boy,” Liccy Dahl said on the BBC4 ‘s Today programme on Wednesday, which celebrated Roald Dahl day.
She didn’t know why Charlie changed into a white boy, but said it was a “great pity”.
The author’s biographer Donald Sturrock, who was also being interviewed, said the change was decided upon by Dahl’s agent who thought a poor white boy would appeal more to the audience.
“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,” said Sturrock.
The 1964 children’s novel had previously been accused of racism. Initially, the Oompa-Loompas were depicted as black pygmies.
By the 1970s the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People called out its racism and by the second edition they were given “rosy-white” skin.
In the first movie, the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the Oompa-Loompas were made orange.
Dahl revealed that her husband wasn’t fond of that movie.
She said he wasn’t very happy about Willy Wonka, played by Gene Wilder.