The author's original books like The Witches and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will remain unchanged in the U.S. after backlash over new editions in the U.K.

Roald Dahl's books may have been updated, but the original texts will still be available.

Though Dahl's books — like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, and Matilda — have been beloved for decades and have been adapted multiple times into films, they have also attracted criticism over time due to their use of stereotypes and potentially uncomfortable language. Earlier this week, Penguin's British division Puffin Books announced that they had teamed up with "sensitivity readers" to publish new editions of Dahl's books through their Puffin Books children's imprint. Among other edits, these editions deleted words like "fat," "ugly," "black," "white," "mad," and "crazy" in an effort to make them less offensive for contemporary readers.

One example of the newly modified text was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory describing Augustus Gloop as "enormous" instead of the original 1964 version's "enormously fat." The new edition of The Witches changed a reference to an "old hag" to an "old crow" and altered a line about a woman working as a "cashier in a supermarket or typing letters for a businessman" to a "top scientist or running a business."

Anjelica Huston in the 1990 film adaptation of Roald Dahl's 'The Witches.'
| Credit: Everett Collection

This move attracted widespread criticism from writers like Salman Rushdie. While he acknowledged Dahl's many faults, Rushdie referred to the edits as "absurd censorship" on Twitter, and said both Puffin and the Dahl estate "should be ashamed." His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman added that "if Dahl offends us, let him go out of print" rather than rewrite his words.

In the wake of that backlash, the publisher is backing down a bit. A rep for Penguin tells EW there are no plans for similarly edited versions of Dahl's books to be published in the U.S., and the Associated Press reported on Friday that even in the U.K., the original editions will be published later this year as "The Roald Dahl Classic Collection."

"We also recognize the importance of keeping Dahl's classic texts in print," Penguin executive Francesca Dow told AP. "By making both Puffin and Penguin versions available, we are offering readers the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl's magical, marvelous stories."

Rushdie at least is pleased, tweeting "Penguin Books backs down after Roald Dahl backlash!" after the news broke.

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