Time to check the attic — you may be sitting on a newly minted literary fortune.
Thanks to publishers’ recent censorship of original Roald Dahl books, original copies have skyrocketed in worth, literally overnight. Some “unedited versions” of the British author’s classic works now list for over $5,000 on commerce sites like eBay.
The censorship began like it usually does — in a corporate attempt to rewrite history in order to make a product more marketable to modern tastes. In 2021, Netflix bought the Roald Dahl Story Company, a deal which includes the author’s entire back catalogue. The Roald Dahl Story Company then worked with Puffin Books, Dahl’s longtime publisher, to remove offensive or non-inclusionary language.
The publisher partnered with Inclusive Minds, a collective which works to make children’s literature more inclusive and accessible. Changes to the text were “small and carefully considered,” the company said.
Censors dropped words like “crazy” and “mad” from UK versions of the novels. The Oompa Loompas have become gender neutral, and Augustus Gloop is no longer “fat” in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, just to name a few of the edits.
Now, an unedited version of Charlie could sell for thousands; copies of Matilda list for over $1,000; a signed copy of The BFG lists for over $3,000; and a 1982 version of The Twits, with edits that change Mrs. Twit from “ugly and beastly” to just “beastly,” may sell for almost $700.
Roald Dahl was a military fighter pilot before becoming a children’s author
James and the Giant Peach and The Witches also sport hefty price tags online, too, since the edits announcement.
A spokesman for Inclusive Minds said of the tweaks: “We want to ensure that Roald Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today.
“When publishing new print runs of books written years ago, it’s not unusual to review the language used alongside updating other details including a book’s cover and page layout.
“Our guiding principle throughout has been to maintain the storylines, characters, and the irreverence and sharp-edged spirit of the original text. Any changes made have been small and carefully considered.”
Inclusive Minds also indicated that Netflix did not instigate the review process.
“The current review began in 2020, before Dahl was acquired by Netflix,” the org said. “Puffin and Roald Dahl Story Company led the effort together.”
Readers have purchased over 300 million copies of Roald Dahl’s books. They have been translated into 63 languages. And many studios have adaptated his work for both film and television.