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Roald Dahl’s Widow Reveals ‘Willy Wonka’ Lead Character Charlie Was Originally Black

Roald Dahl’s tale of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has captured the hearts of millions. The lead character, Charlie Bucket, goes from rags to riches almost instantly after passing Willy Wonka’s test and becoming his successor to the candy paradise. While the tale is as old as time, a new development in Charlie’s origins has just recently been uncovered.

An interview on BBC Radio 4 Today with Roald Dahl’s widow, Felicity, and biographer Donald Sturrock revealed that Charlie Bucket was “a little black boy” in Dahl’s original drafts. In the final novel and all of the movies, as seen above, Charlie is portrayed as a young white child. Apparently, Roald’s agent advised him against making the protagonist black, calling it a “bad idea” that would stir up questions as to why Charlie was black.

This revelation is eye-opening, especially considering that Roald Dahl was accused of being a racist in the past. The story of Charlie as an impoverished black child could have been a truly inspiring and groundbreaking one, especially considering the heightened awareness of African-American rights at the time. Dahl’s novel was published in 1964, around the height of the Civil Rights Movement. If Charlie was black in the original novel published then, perhaps his story would have served as added gravitas and an inspiration to many involved in that movement.

Altering Charlie into his original character would definitely be a sight to see, should it come to life. Felicity Dahl was open to the idea on the BBC interview, saying “it would be wonderful.”

By Constantine Spyrou

Constantine's life revolves around eating, studying, and talking about food. He's obsessed with eggs, gyros, and the future of food.