2014 is the 50th anniversary of the first publication of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – can you believe it?! If Charlie Bucket continued aging, he would be at least 60 by now, and the Chocolate Factory would look very different after the unionisation of the Oompa Loompas. September 13 was Roald’s birthday and is now celebrated world-wide as Roald Dahl Day. Our libraries will have Roald Dahl activity sheets available for your little human beans.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has sold over 20 million copies and is available in 55 languages. My first experience of it was having it read to my class at North New Brighton Primary. I think I was in Standard Three, but Mr Jefferies tended towards weightier books, so maybe it was earlier. We all loved it, then when we discovered there was a sequel, the wait for it from the school library was unbearable. I’m not sure I finished Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator though, which for school-aged me was unimaginable. I think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was just so good that any sequel would fail to live up to expectations.
Apparently, Roald had started writing a third book: Charlie in the White House, one chapter of it may be on display at the amazing Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire (they hadn’t gotten back to me at time of posting).
In honour of the 50th anniversary, Lucy Mangan has written Inside Charlie’s Chocolate factory. The picture-packed book explores the influence the book has had on our culture and its history. The release of an unpublished chapter from an early draft of the book recently and the debate over a new cover that some found creepy and raunchy, shows that public interest in Charlie stays as vibrant as the book that has engaged us for the last 50 years.