Queen Camilla wades into the Roald Dahl-censorship controversy

Here are some photos of Queen Camilla and King Charles at Clarence House yesterday, part of Camilla’s first big day of events since she was diagnosed with Covid last week. The event at Clarence House was for the second anniversary of The Reading Room, an initiative she started during the pandemic to encourage reading and general literacy. Authors and people in Britain’s literary society were invited, including Richard E. Grant (I knew he was a royalist). At the event, Camilla made a short speech where she waded into the latest dumbf–k culture war, whether Roald Dahl’s books should be censored or altered because he kept calling fictional children “fat.” This issue has become some kind of pressing concern in the UK and abroad I guess. Well, Camilla chimed in.

The Queen Consort has made an extraordinary and unprecedented defence of free speech and the right of writers to express themselves just days after she let it be known privately that she had serious concerns about the censorship of one of her favourite authors, Roald Dahl.

In a speech to mark the second anniversary of her literary initiative Reading Room at Clarence House, she urged writers “to remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or your imagination”.

In what will be interpreted as her disapproval of the changes made to the text of Dahl’s classic books to make his stories more palatable and less challenging to modern readers, the Queen said “let there be no squeaking like mice but only roaring like a pride of lions!”

Camilla said: “Thank you, on behalf of book lovers and book clubs everywhere, for sharing your talents with us and for everything you do to promote literacy and a love of literature. Please keep doing so and please remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or impose limits on your imagination.”

After the speech, a source close to Camilla said she was “shocked and dismayed” that Dahl’s words should have been altered and believes in the power and freedom of writers as one of the most important things that must be protected at all times.

[From The Independent]

I… don’t disagree with her? Taken as a siloed issue, her stance is fine with me. But yes, of course people are whatabouting her. Why is she taking this principled stance on Dahl censorship when she would never lift a finger to help Harry and Meghan? What does her anti-censorship stance look like when it’s tested at a personal level if and when the British papers begin to report on her scheming, homewrecking, lying and very real unpopularity? Is Camilla willingly entering into the culture wars with a decidedly less inclusive worldview? Does Camilla believe that Augustus Gloop should be called “fat”? Does she think children should be called fat in real life? We need answers to these questions, Cam.

Photos courtesy of Cover Images.

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128 Responses to “Queen Camilla wades into the Roald Dahl-censorship controversy”

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  1. Emily_C says:

    I agree with this, but there’s no way she’d stand up for the people who usually get censored. Women, queer people, people of color, poor people, anyone outside the supposed “norm”, people who haven’t been dead for over 30 years…

    Oh and people holding blank pieces of paper up near Chuck!

  2. equality says:

    Authors get “censored” all the time. It’s called editing. I guess, I fail to see how changing one word is that big a deal. Especially in the context of the MANY words that the royals have censored because they didn’t flatter them and the MANY they ignored about H&M.

    • Tacky says:

      It goes far beyond changing one word. Entire passages of his books are being rewritten. My question is why? There are millions of other books kids can read. Dahl’s work hasn’t stood the test, Camilla should get over it.

      • equality says:

        Is it changing the essential storyline? I haven’t paid much attention because I’m not a big fan of his work. In the long run it will probably just serve to bring attention to his books and make more money for whomever has the copyright.

      • Julia says:

        @Equality It doesn’t change ANYTHING. From what I’ve seen, the description of Augustus’s size is all still there: he’s enormous, bulging, etc. They just removed the actual word “fat”, while leaving in his obesity and gluttony as his only character traits.

        Roald Dahl is a predictable money-maker, particularly for the kind of people who aren’t familiar with more modern children’s literature. I don’t believe in censorship, but I DO believe in moving on to other, better works, and there are plenty out there. Ask any librarian in the children’s or YA section at your local library for recommendations, and I guarantee they’ll have plenty.

    • Emmi says:

      That’s not the same at all.

      This has been a discussion in various European countries. Do we read these books to our children the way they are? If you don’t think changing one word is a big deal, would that also go for something like the n-word? Because there are German children’s books that contain a version of that word. It is not the same as the actual n-word in English but it’s not great at all. These books were read to me as a child as-is and some of my elder relatives still need to be told that certain words are not okay.

      We can “edit” all these books, sure. And I can understand the arguments in favor of that. But these books reflect the times they were written in. There have been some suggestions as to how we can deal with it other than editing or just leaving everything the way it is.

      Camilla’s statement is dumb. Let’s call a spade a spade. She’s out of touch and of COURSE she doesn’t want anything edited. But why would anyone listen to her on these matters.

      • equality says:

        Actually many books have been re-edited to update them and make them more relevant to society today. Not the same as the first editions, but STILL editing.

      • windyriver says:

        Since this is an article, and a comment, about the use of language, and you specifically mention the n-word – a suggestion. You may also want to investigate the nuances around calling a spade a spade, which can also have racist connotations. This is the second time this phrase has come up in a comment in the last several days – don’t know if both are by you – and I’m not the only one that pointed this out.


      • KrystinaJ says:


        Thank you for that link! I had no idea that that particular phrase had racist connotations.
        I love that us CB’ers continuously educate each other 🙂

      • Emmi says:

        @windyriver: No that wasn’t me and I had not seen it. I was thinking of the German “to call a child by its name” and just thought this was the next best translation. Thanks for the link!

        @equality: That is still not what is going on here. Which books are those? I know translations are frequently edited or rather, new ones are published.

      • equality says:

        Some of the Little House books have been edited in relation to mentions of Native Americans. As mentioned by Tanya in a comment below Mary Poppins, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys have been updated. Even mentioned a couple of times by commenters the original Oompa Loompas were changed. Fairytales are all the time (probably a different concept.) But all are, as is with this case, with consent of copyright holders and not by public censorship, so I fail to see how this is different.

      • Emmi says:

        I have never heard this with regards to authors like Astrid Lindgren, Michael Ende or Erich Kästner. Just randomly “updating” classics to omit the realities of the times. Interesting about Mary Poppins. The translations into German haven’t been updated.

        This might not be different than the cases you mentioned but that – to me – just means those cases of “updating” books to fit the times was questionable back then too.

      • Becks1 says:

        Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys are different though. You can still buy the original versions, and those series have been updated for decades in various forms, and are specifically designed to appeal to teen and younger readers, so it makes sense that they may update references and the like.

        As long as they don’t bring back those stupid double editions or whatever. Dangerous Games, I’m looking at you.

      • BayTampaBay says:

        @equality – I think some of Agatha Christies pre-WWII books have been edited too to remove “racisms” as new editions of old books are republish.

    • Annalise/Typical Virgo says:

      Rather than rewriting other peoples’ words, make the problematic words/passages part of the conversations in schools about the book. Any book I was assigned to read, at least by middle school, required me to look at it in it’s historical context. Discussing problematic language and/or ideas is a mere extension of that.

      • Alice says:

        Our kids read all as written. Then we discuss. The way to avoid repeating history is not erasing it for then those kids won’t know it but openly facing it and learning from it.

    • TeamMeg says:

      @equality Editing is what happens prior to a book being published. Removing words or updating the language of a previously published work due to political or morality concerns is, in a way, rewriting history. Seems like a slippery slope. Then again, how many times has the Bible been rewritten?

      • equality says:

        In the case of the Bible, it is more re-translating by going back to the original Hebrew, Latin and Greek versions and putting it in more modern language. When you are dealing with the ancient version of languages there is a difference in translation by different people’s interpretations. Funnily, there are many who think of the King James translation as being the original. If it is happening with the author or copywright holders’ approval it is a form of post-publishing editing. I guess, fiction books reflect the thinking and history of the times but it’s not like the original versions are being burnt and wiped out completely and it’s not revision of actual history texts (which in many cases need revision). Think how many books are re-written to be made into movies and TV programs. Is that a controversy?

    • MickMack says:

      Changing an authors words long after they’re dead is a bit Orwellian. It’s gotten to the point individuals are now harassed online by mentally unstable people for the books they read. Folks should remember the same will be done to them one day if they tolerate this iconoclastic behavior now. In terms of intent I fail to see the difference in editing an authors book for it to be “nicer” or the Catholic Church editing details of Roman art, history, and literature in prior centuries.

  3. Ameerah M says:

    Cammy has no problem standing up for dead racist white men.

    • MrsBanjo says:


      And no, his books shouldn’t be rewritten. They should be left as they are along with printouts of his very long history of disgusting bigoted takes so young people can see exactly who he was.

      • ThatsNotOkay says:

        Agreed. Everything needs to be read in context, with explanation. “When this was written, people believed it was okay to say or do this…” Or “white people were treating people of color like this and using this word to make them seem like they weren’t equal to them. We don’t use that word now and know that they were wrong for what they did. Now, back to the story…”

      • Elizabeth says:

        Exactly. Teachers and parents should discuss with children reading his books the more problematic aspects of the books. Don’t censor them or rewrite them. It would be one thing if Dahl were doing it himself, and apparently, he did rewrite sections of his books to take out some of the more offensive language, like changing how the Oompa-Loompas were described initially. Camilla’s speech also makes me wonder if she was thinking about her good buddy Jeremy Clarkson and the outcry about his piece in The Sun.

      • SomeChick says:

        @Elizabeth, you’ve nailed it. this is subtext about “censorship bad!” I bet pathetic, vile Clarkson is still crying in his beer over getting pushback, and whinging to his bestie Camzilla the wicked.

    • Princessk says:

      Or being friends with alive racist misogynist white men like Jeremy Clarkson and Piers Morgan.

  4. kelleybelle says:

    Does anyone, anywhere care what this corpse has to say? The homeless guy on the corner is more credible than she is.

  5. Andy Dufresne says:

    Soooo ok, Camilla and essentially the BRF, would rather say something about Roald Dahl, than address the problem within their own family, the media, and the British society in general.

    Ok, ok. Got it! Fat should be censored, but not being compared to a monkey. Ok.

  6. B says:

    A hypocritical awful woman doing hypocritical awful things. In other news what is going on with her face?? She’s clearly losing weight and has had work done but somehow she looks MORE aged??

    I’m starting to lean into people’s theory that she’s having health issues.

    • wildwaffles says:

      She looks markedly different in these photos. Her face is much thinner. Either she was way sicker with Covid than they shared or she’s on a serious weight loss plan. I agree there’s also been some nick and tuck probably. Trying to figure out what she might’ve had done, maybe an eye lift?

      • Becks1 says:

        i think she’s lost weight but also, these are indoor pictures with a softer light, I feel like so many of the pictures we see of her are from outside and the light is not that kind to her. In the picture with Charles, without her glasses, she looks pretty similar to how she normally looks. Its in the pictures of her speech where she looks different.

    • Harper says:

      This clip is fishy. No pan of the room, just a tight shot of Cams. They’ve filmed her in Clarence House like this before and included a wider shot of the room and the people attending. I’m guessing they filmed her speech privately in case she couldn’t get through it. She did make other appearances yesterday afternoon so she’s not at death’s door, but why the weirdness with this speech?

      • Agreatreckoning says:

        Reading her words, all I’m getting is that this has nothing to do with the censorship/revising of Dahl’s books. I’m seeing it as a supportive statement to the RR’s/BM to keep writing their imaginary bs about the Sussexes.

    • Princessk says:

      Yes, I think the strain of really having to do serious work for the first time in her life entering her 70s is beginning to take its toll. We are going to get more and more stories of Camilla pulling out of engagements due to ill health. Charles must be furious with Willy and Kate’s continued slow pace. The future is going to look interesting.

  7. Tessa says:

    The looks she gives Charles creep me out. Did he get tested for covid. Where was Camilla when Clarkson wrote those disgusting things about Meghan

  8. Tessa says:

    Her coloring her hair blonde makes her look older.

  9. Saschafrom76 says:

    Everyday we are shown why she was given the face that she was given by the good lord Above. Inspired by the devil
    No doubt

  10. jo73c says:

    With regards to Augustus – Willy Wonka isn’t meant to be a nice character. He’s quite a horrible person and says a lot of pretty terrible stuff. To change the words without diluting the character & story would just mean you would have to insult Augustus in some other way – what’s the point of that? Augustus’ gluttony is the point of his character within the story.

    Read Roald Dahl’s short stories that aren’t for children – calling someone fat would be the least shocking thing about them. I read a lot of his stories as a child and the short stories as a young-ish adult – at which time I was pretty shocked by them, but recognised the language for being old-fashioned and outdated. Rather than censor the stories, educate children about history so that they recognise and understand language as a reflection of the social conditions at the time it was written.

  11. C says:

    Roald Dahl, while writing many beloved books, was still a racist and anti-Semite, so I’m not surprised she chose *him* to vindicate. Camilla is vile.

    • Miranda says:

      Came here to say this very thing. Many have tried to paint him as anti-Israel rather than anti-Jewish, but he was very much both. Besides the usual “Jews control the media/financial institutions” nonsense, he also basically said they had the Holocaust coming to them. The exact quote: “even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.” Pretty horrific, indefensible stuff.

      • C says:

        Yes. And editing Dahl’s problematic books was an issue he faced in his life, it’s not some new thing. They finally had to change the Oompa Loompas from originally being “amiable black African pygmies” to their revised form, and this change was in 1972, not recently.

      • SomeChick says:

        that Hitler, what a stinker! yikes on bikes.

      • kirk says:

        “that Hitler, what a stinker!” Yikes is right.

        This whole article is just odd to me, plus a glaring example of what Harry was talking about with a palace source dictating a story, but officially disclaiming it.
        If Cons cared about privacy, “let it be known privately that she had serious concerns,” why is it in this paper, helmed by her good bud Geordie Greig? And just to make sure everybody knows her private feelings, “a source close to Camilla [i.e. Cons herself] said she was “shocked and dismayed” that Dahl’s words should have been altered.”

      • Debbie says:

        I’ve heard that quote he said about Hitler and I don’t understand it at all. We all know what Hitler is best known for, and everything else about him since he became a public figure by running for public office in Germany was done in service of his vision to “exterminate” Jews, gays, and the disabled in that country. So, if Roald Dahl is apparently okay with that, then why even refer to Hitler as “a stinker”? (Some understatement, by the way). You just know that secretly or privately he must have said some admiring things about him.

    • AnneL says:

      It was so disappointing to find out about Dahl’s racism and Anti-Semitism. He was my son’s favorite author when he was a kid. I even had a tape of Dahl reading some of his own works that I would play in the car for both of my children (a tape, yes, I’m old). We’re Jewish and yeah, that stung.

  12. ABritGuest says:

    Freedom of expression is good now…coming from the people who had their friends & government ministers complain endlessly about the last two seasons of the crown.

    I’ve not followed the roald Dahl row much but seems like it’s important to anti woke/anti cancel culture types. Camilla speaking on this & remarking about whether we are allowed to say ‘ladies & gentleman’ anymore a few months ago is her setting her stall as the right wing/culture wars queen. Guess her ex fail editor PR person thinks this is how she will increase her popularity

  13. Tessa says:

    There are more stories about how badly he treated Patricia Neal and cheated on her. Dahl was not a nice person.

    • Elizabeth says:

      He cheated on her with her best friend, who he married after the divorce. I know many people give him a pass because he took care of Patricia Neal after her stroke in the early 60s, but he was still a terrible person.

  14. Mrsfonzieface says:

    Dahl’s work hasn’t stood the test of time. We’re outgrowing some of his ways of writing. This is good news. I reckon we can calmly let nature to take its course and allow his books to go out of print while we happily read and celebrate today’s and the future’s awesome, kind, compassionate and wise writers.

    I did not need Camilla’s opinion on this.

  15. Dhianna says:

    Looks like the old gal has been to see KHate’s favorite ‘doctor’….. Maybe that is where she has been…..cough cough…..COVID….cough…..cough

  16. SarahCS says:

    Chuck3 looks like a caricature of some kind of olde-fashioned vampire in that last pic. Count something or other.

    • Jojo says:

      @SARAHCS just wondering, that ‘o’ (first word – last sentence) could that potentially be edited out? 😉

  17. Tanya says:

    These are books for children. They’re still magical without leaving in content that moves them from “stuff you can let your kid read without adult intervention” to “books you have to contextualize”. Books get updated all the time, to make them more relevant and truer to the original intent. Mary Poppins, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, etc. have all been revised and re-edited.

    This sort of analysis is fine for older students, but when my 7 year old is reading, I want her to be able to just… love the book. And so do publishers, which is why they are making the changes. It’s nothing to do with censorship or being woke. Publishing books is a business, and publishers want a product that sells.

    • C says:

      That’s a good point about books constantly getting updated especially for kids. I noticed the Babysitters Club has been revised too, all the references to things like VCRs and 80’s fashion are obliterated!

      • PNWer says:

        The original Grimm’s Fairytales. Yikes!

      • The Recluse says:

        Grimms’ Fairy Tales definitely.
        One tale is called One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes – about three maidens.
        And if you look up the original, Italian version of the Sleeping Beauty in the Wood….YIKES.

    • Jojo says:

      Exactly @TANYA I don’t think people realise how common this process actually is.

    • Lightpurple says:

      Cinderella has been rewritten many, many times. Nobody is cutting off parts of her foot in versions we see now but that wasn’t always the case – and the shoe talked in some versions.

      • Becks1 says:

        I think rewriting is different from editing. If someone wants to rewrite Matilda and tell the story in a different way and add some things or leave out other things, then go for it (lets ignore copyright law etc for a minute.) But that’s different than editing Matilda so that every version of it sold from now on is different from the original.

      • The Recluse says:

        That’s what made Into The Woods such fun. They left much of the original aspects of her tale in place.

    • MissMarirose says:

      Even Agatha Christie has been revised over the years. The book now known as “And Then There Were None” was originally called “Ten Little N*****s” and when they realized that word was too racist and renamed it . . . “Ten Little Indians.” Before I guess someone realized that changing the race didn’t fix the problem and renaming it again.

  18. Amy Bee says:

    This just proved again that Camilla is a rabid right winger. People forget that another event she exposed herself as not welcoming of trans and non-binary people.

    • Amy Bee says:

      The British press better keep quiet when Meghan says anything political in the future.

      • Mary Pester says:

        Amybee, AGREED my take on this is that not only is cowmilla a husband jumper, but is also a wagon jumper. She saw this topic taking of in the British press and thought “ha, I can be part of this and therefore popular” soooo very wrong. Tell us who you are Camilla, without telling us who you are. Your a manipulating btch, someone who would and has sacrificed family members to further your own plans. Is that why Megan and Harry had to go Camilla! Because they outshone and outshine all of you.! Jump as many bandwagons as you want, but Harry and meghan, YOUR WOMAN OF COLOUR daughter in law will always make you, your husband, your step son and daughter in law look as dull and washed up as a towel thats been left out on a line for a year. By the way, your crash diet did you no favours!

  19. blue says:

    I don’t think re-editing or altering books is right. Let them stand as illustrative of the time & prevalent culture when they were written, good or bad. Use them as learning opportunities. Do we want to edit the Bible to remove offensive passages about homosexuality? What about the Iliad? Odyssey? Canterbury Tales? Or Shakespeare who wasn’t always PC?
    Please, let’s not make Orwell so prophetic.

    • Jojo says:

      The bible is probably the most revised, translated, edited, whole sections censored, repeatedly updated ‘book’ on the planet.

    • Amy Bee says:

      This is nothing new. Dahl has changed his books in the past. Oompa Lompas were formerly African Pygmies. I’m, sure that all those books you mentioned have been changed to modern English so that people like yourself can understand what was written.

  20. TheWigletOfWails says:

    Is it really censorship if the edits or corrections are voluntarily coming from the Dahl estate and not a pitchfork-carrying mob? They still want to make money selling his books! And for that to happen, some things have to change because Roald was a nasty, racist, anti-Semite and it showed in his writing. Also, great job Camilla for showing us what you and the RF will condone/support. Way to prove Harry and Meghan right.

    • Jojo says:

      This. 👆

    • Jojo says:

      The bible is probably the most revised, edited, translated, whole sections censored, repeatedly updated ‘book’ on the planet.

    • Nic919 says:

      Dahl’s estate is looking to modernize his racist books in order to make more money. They should be left as is and either parents explain the racism or they get other books.

      It is one thing when the author does the revisions themselves, but once they are dead that it.

      Shakespeare has a lot of racism and antisemitism in his plays and it is addressed not revised.

      There are other better books available for kids.

  21. Becks1 says:

    I go back and forth on the issue of editing books. Lots of books that we read are problematic for various reasons, especially books from 50, 100 years ago, or longer – do we edit all of them? Update all of them? Use them as teaching experiences? Find different books for our kids to read? My oldest read James and the Giant Peach and Chocolate Factory, and that’s been about the extent of his interest in Dahl. There are so many other books he can read that he does not gravitate to Dahl, so it hasnt been an issue here after the initial reading (which was shocking for me bc I didn’t remember some aspects of those books so we did have some conversations.) I remember reading Huck Finn in high school and while we never said the n-word in our discussions, it was obviously in the book and we did discuss that while reading it (the word, why it was problematic, why we wouldn’t be using it, etc.)

    I do think its a worthwhile conversation to have though and that we should be discussing this, I’m just not sure where I stand. Maybe its more of a spectrum in terms of which book we are editing and why.

    • Frippery says:

      I think it’s a very complicated issue. On the one hand, you have “N-word Jim” and having to have these conversations with kids about why this language or these viewpoints were acceptable then but that we know better now, and try to do better now.

      Then, on the other hand, we have the slippery slope issue that potentially leads us closer to a noswearing – three seashells – all restaurants are Taco Bell society.

      Then, on a *third* hand, what is wrong with having those conversations with kids? My daughter is six years old. She has recently become fascinated by Sacagawea and interested in Abraham Lincoln. That has led to some careful conversations about their place in history. She loves to read, and watch movies. Sometimes we talk about why someone said or did something in a book or movie. We’ve also had to talk about why Splash Mountain is changing. And those are good conversations to have. There are also more recently written books or recently made movies that don’t require any explanations.

      And on a fourth hand, maybe it’s fine because we agree that some terms and so e passages of text are hurtful to today’s sensibilities. We “like” that because if aligns with our worldview. But if our worldview falls out of favor, we might not agree with changing things. What if this were removing mentions of birth control from books aimed at teenagers? We’ve already got The War on School Libraries. So we need to be careful because it can be argued that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    • Nic919 says:

      Most of this comes from adults too attached to these books who now realize all the problematic shit in it but have nostalgia and want their own kids to read the sanitized version so the kids don’t wonder why their parents loved such racist or sexist books.

      Better stuff is out there.

      We don’t need to do massive edits of Lucy Maud Montgomery with her Anne series. That’s because she didn’t write racist sexist garbage even in the early 1900s.

      Camilla is a hypocrite for what she said, but she’s not wrong in principle. Let the racism and sexism be exposed for what it is.

      I read Huck Finn without edits in grade school and knew that the n word was bad. It’s not hard to get answers especially now when you can get info off the internet about the author.

      • EBS says:

        Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote plenty of racist stuff (Kilmeny of the Orchard, Tannis of the Flats) but not in the Anne books, that’s true.

    • Honey says:

      I’m glad you brought up Mark Twain. As I was reading over the posts, most people have basically said that the way to deal with something like this is to tell kids this language was or is wrong, let’s discuss it, and then move on. However, as I was reading over the comments, I also wondered how many people have ever been black in their classrooms and listening to the N-word and watching their peers watch them for some sort of emotional tell or reaction. How many people on the panel have been Native American, Chinese, or even Mexican in middle school or high school as derogatory words are read “within the original context” as white peers and sometimes even the teacher snickers and defend the word use while you have to sit there or are asked to be objective and engage in the “intellectual merits” of the conversation?

      Many of the books within the “western canon” were written by men and women who were not just white but inherently racist and without some compassion for the people/characters whom they derided and/or referred to in derogatory ways. My ask is this: even if it ultimately doesn’t change your mind or even move the needle about your position or original works, just for a second, please ask yourself “how might it feel being a member of XX group when this is read and discussed in classroom? How would I have felt if that were me?”

  22. JanetDR says:

    Isn’t it odd that right wingers are all about banning books but not for self censorship by a responsible author/ board?
    Having it both ways is what they do.

  23. Wendy says:

    With the news that Puffin is planning to release special editions of the “classic” Dahl books alongside the edited versions, it’s beyond obvious that this is a moneygrab.

    And the uproar in the press, which Camilla contributes to here, is nothing more than a distraction from the myriad issues plaguing Britain right now. Cost of living crisis? Lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in supermarkets because of Brexit? NHS collapsing? Transphobia running rampant throughout the nation? Quick, whip up some bullshit cancel culture story about a hate-filled antisemite Brit who used to write children’s books! No, not her, the other one!

  24. Imara219 says:

    I’m not down with censoring or editing old books. If those books no longer fit our current culture or reality, the option should be to either print new editions labeled accordingly, let those older copies go out of print, or continue as is with annotations within the book for what is problematic or print a Content Warning/Trigger Warning after the title page expressing the now problematic material and why it is an issue that will actually acknowledge the potential harm while also educating on what the issue is. However, changing words is a slippery slope, and I don’t agree with it at all. I hate Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but it lost favor with being taught in schools, and now it is only used in a comparative lit compacity in higher education. What they didn’t do is change words or change the context of the story and re-lease it. For example, Shakesphere’s Merchant of Venice has so many edited editions, all of them are marked accordingly and now the conversation is around some of the problematic views presented in the text. The dialogue is added within the discussion. Changing a word glosses over the context and where it stood from a historical and cultural moment.

    • Amy Bee says:

      Books have always been changed to make them more palatable for the next generation of readers. This is not about censorship and only about the right wing trying to stir up culture wars.

      • Imara219 says:

        @Amy Bee we do a disservice to this conversation when we apply very black/white perspectives to the situation. It’s not just “right-wing” outrage. The whole thing is silly. It’s silly to change work, instead of leaving it intact and figuring out other ways to discuss this text in our current reality and it’s silly to just classify any discontent towards this action as “right-wing” ish. This issue folds itself out of the clean lines of “this” or “that”. I mentioned my thoughts on the nature of revisions for old texts in my OP.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      Thank you. You know what triggers me? Censorship. Revising literature? Repulsive.

      • Amy Bee says:

        But this is not censorship and Dahl has revised his books in the past.

      • Imara219 says:

        @ Mabs A’Mabbin My biggest issue is that it messes with the historical record and documentation. Society is going to shift and move. Therefore, societal norms will shift as well. Deciding to revise a text completely to remove the parts we now find wrong is odd to me. That text is a record encapsulating that cultural flashpoint. It’s ok to discuss how it is no longer the norm or good or fitting with our new norms. I will never be down with censorship.

    • Imara219 says:

      The power of words will always move me. One thing that still stands out to me is how the evolution of a word signifies the psychology of the people in that era. It’s a snapshot of that moment, a window into acceptability. Shifting the meanings, shifting the words, and shifting the context radically change the material, which changes how that period can be analyzed and studied.

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        Imara, you put it perfectly. There are clues of bygone moments in time lost forever with every edit. I certainly don’t mind new outtakes within new publications. That’s expected and for the most part, that’s our growth. But to alter the past, even at a miniscule level, changes the photograph.

    • Nic919 says:

      I agree with this. I did an English lit undergrad and while authors did revisions in their lifetimes, they still studied the original versions for major changes. Also explaining the circumstances as to why certain racist or sexist things were written needs to be examined too. I mean Charles Dickens wrote terrible female characters but few take a look at that. He’s not the only problematic author out there.

      Critical thinking is required when reading and changing books to make them “acceptable” years after the author is gone doesn’t do anything but prevent kids and adults from knowing the author’s true intent.

  25. L84Tea says:

    Ooh, she’s got her glasses on. She’s a serious QC…also, CB’ers, tomorrow night is the night of my book club where we all read “Spare”. I’m literally preparing notes to take with me to be able to hit back at whatever they try to throw at me.

  26. Remy says:

    Ironic coming from someone who been trying to rewrite her past since the 80s

  27. CC says:

    I’m against censorship generally, but this has been approved by those who own the rights. Nobody is hunting down earlier editions and burning them.
    Has anyone ever read the stories he wrote for adults?
    The man was weird.

    • AnneL says:

      The stories he wrote for children were pretty weird and dark too, honestly. There’s a lesser known one called “The Finger” that involves a girl with a finger that is like the devil on her shoulder and makes her do destructive things. Basically she’s possessed. And in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, the Bucket family is literally starving, one kid gets sucked up a tube and another goes down the garbage chute where it is implied she might or might not end up in a landfill. It’s not pablum.

      • Imara219 says:

        @AnneL His stories are pretty twisty and dark, especially compared to what we use now for children’s lit. I honestly think his books would have most likely fallen out of favor with anyone after nostalgia goes, which is why the estate is trying to change things up now. I have my own thoughts about that, but the tone and taste of children’s literature is just wildly different now than it was then.

    • Nic919 says:

      The motive for editing things is to make a profit for the estate. It’s just as wrong s censorship. Those new versions have no input from the author and so they aren’t his books. If his books were weird and racist then so be it.

  28. Nora says:

    I am deeply against censoring books- it takes away the historical context in which they were written and it’s a slippery slope. Most of the Dahl censorship is removing references to how fat people are (and also, weirdly, that a character is pretty). I mean, Dahl hated fat people. It’s deeper than Willy wonka – every book has something fat phobic in it. He hates fat people nearly as much as jk Rowling hates fat people and we aren’t putting warnings in the Harry Potter books or changing them. And they were written much more recently. I just can’t deal with this senseless censorship at all. Why? Who was asking for this?

    • Nic919 says:

      The estate wants to make more money off his name that’s the only reason.

      This is why copyright needs to end within a few years of the author’s death. Families are just looking to profit on work they never did.

  29. AnneL says:

    Dahl was a racist and anti-Semite. I loved his books and so did my kids, so it was really sad to discover that.

    That said, I don’t know that the books should be censored. Not to take out the word “fat,” anyway. Augustus wasn’t condemned so much for being overweight as for being a glutton with no self-discipline who didn’t follow the rules. It’s an old-fashioned book that targets a few habits Dahl considered bad for children: watching too much TV (Mike), being generally spoiled and selfish (Veruka), and……chewing gum (Violet). The last one seems a little nit-picky to me, but the first two are fair game IMO.

    No, I don’t think the author should be making fun of overweight children, or making them feel like if they aren’t thin they must be gluttons like Augustus. But that’s not really the message that comes across in the book, not to me anyway. The book feels more like a cautionary tale against indulging children too much, or letting them indulge. It’s a little dark and it doesn’t mess around. But not all children’s stories are anodyne, and that was especially true in the past. It doesn’t mean we should erase them, just be careful about how and when kids are exposed to them.

    I see above that Dahl’s hatred of fat people comes across in a lot of his work. I wasn’t aware of that. Obviously I don’t approve of it, but I still don’t think we should start censoring his work over it. It’s a slippery slope.

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      I, too, was (maybe still am?) a fan of Dahl’s books from my youth. James and The Giant Peach, the Wonka books (Glass Elevator), Henry Sugar, Fantastic Fox.. It was disheartening when I read as an adult that Dahl held certain beliefs and was quite an a$$hole.

      Often, my takeaway, from Dahl’s books, was be good and decent. Augustus was guilty of gluttony, Veruca Salt was guilty of greed, Mike TV was guilty of Sloth and Violet Beauregarde was guilty of pride. It wasn’t that she was just a gum chewer. It was she was prideful of being the holder of a gum chewing record. 4 of the deadly sins covered. Charlie was the decent one.

      Looking at the 7 deadly sins and Charles being the head of the Church of England, between him, Camilla, Will & Kate (I’ll thrown in the RR’s for good measure). They have ALL the deadly sins covered.

      Meghan was Harry’s golden ticket to a better, more meaningful life.

  30. NYC212 says:

    I believe Camilla is very qualified to speak on this issue. Few people know better than she does how a rewrite and erasure of unpleasantness can radically alter the knowledge of the reader. The media annals on her seem to have been cleansed to such an extent that the Tawdry Tampon is now Queen. She has gone from having dinner rolls tossed at her in the grocery store to being called “Your Majesty” as she waits to have a crown laden with stolen jewels placed atop her head. It would be awful if the coverage of this insane event included the shameful fact that her new throne will be placed a few feet from where the coffin of woman she gaslit, abused, and humiliated rested. Stories of how Diana’s groundbreaking advocacy and sympathy changed public perception of people who were viewed as tainted have been rewritten to portray her as a paranoid lunatic.

    I fully understand why she would object to removing the racism of the written word. After all, she and that crime syndicate masquerading as a family benefit to this very day from racist words written about Meghan. But for the racism injected into the words written about Meghan, the rest of that lot would be viewed for what they are which is lazy, corrupt, bigoted, sleazy, rapists, enamored of many child rapists, adulterous, and totally lacking in empathy. But for the racist coverage the tabloids use to radicalize the racist elements of the UK, we would be reading about how that family is getting two new gold carriages, getting new thrones, living in multiple mansions, having multiple castles, and spending outrageously to celebrate a 73 year old man for the grand accomplishment of outliving his mother all while the UK is in crisis.

    I’m black and I find this censorship very suspicious. While this is being sold to us to prevent offense or harm to people, I suspect it is just part of the effort to erase the sins of white people. They are doing it with slavery, the Civil War, the status of Native Americans, the genocide white people carried out against them, Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the Mexican-American war, the internment of Japanese Americans, among other atrocities. Those things are being erased from books and history classes because people don’t want white kids to be upset even though that inflicts immense harm on all people of color. Now I’m to believe they are editing these books so we will feel better?

    This is part of the wider effort to erase the misdeeds of white men. If you have literature from that time incongruent with the time when students are not told about the appalling abuse white men inflicted upon everyone else, they will wonder how it got published or why it was written. These books should stay as they were written because “cleaning them up” is part of the coverup.

    • SueBarbri33 says:

      I agree with this 100%. I am now old enough to witness this airbrushing and white-washing first hand. I’ve seen narratives about slavery, racism, segregation, the Civil Rights movement, and the anti-war movement of the Vietnam era being totally changed to suit whichever narrative they’re trying to push. And it’s going to get even worse once we lose printed books and everything goes electronic. They’ll be able to erase and eliminate everything in the blink of an eye.

      • Mary Pester says:

        Suebarbree, I’m an older white woman and take issue with the way the bible has been whitewashed over the years. Even down to Jesus himself. How can a baby, born in Jerusalem to parents from nazareth look anything like the blue eyed, blond /brown haired man portrayed in all the pictures. There have been so many alterations to the bible that I can understand why so many people have their doubts about Christianity

    • Carrot says:

      @NYC212 says Everything you said, and I’m going to quote you. Thank you

    • Beverley says:

      Say it again, NYC212. You said the silent part out loud. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾🎯

  31. Lucy says:

    I almost didn’t recognize her with the glasses!

  32. Lee says:

    For once I agree with her, leave old books as they are, if the author is or was racist it’s good for our kids to know!

    • Imara219 says:

      Straight facts because 50-80 years from now, it will be a wholly sanitized view of that authorship and not a realistic picture of the progression of the art form and society.

    • Blithe says:

      Perhaps. As a kid who read my way through at least 6 libraries with almost no supervision or discussion of what I was reading, I was struck by the disparaging depictions of people who looked like me throughout many works that I was assured were classics. Some of the worst examples were in books intended for quite young children. My vote would be to leave the books as they are — with written explanations in the front of each book — alerting potential readers to historic contexts of offensive content. It’s not enough to assume that teachers and parents will be available to provide contexts for everything that an impressionable independent reader might read.

      I still remember reading some quite awful things in a series of books about twins in different “lands”, in anthologies that included “ Little Black Sambo”, and in books like The Bobbsey Twins series, which I read as a quite young reader. While I doubt that these books are in libraries today, it’s important to remember that many of the people who need school libraries and public libraries the most might have the least access to resources that provide appropriate contexts and alternatives to what they might be reading.

      While it might be “good” on some levels, for our kids to know if an author is or was racist, keep in mind that at least some independent readers are already dealing with racism in their daily lives at very young ages. While encountering racism in books might fit with that norm, there might be more useful ways to openly acknowledge such racism for these impressionable readers —in ways that don’t support the status quo.

    • Mary Pester says:

      Especially your grandchildren from your “woman of colour” daughter in law!!

  33. WaffleLover says:

    KC has the face Dahl’s The BFG except he is neither big nor friendly. Somebody get that man some moisturizer! Also, why can’t anyone on Salt Island have a decent expression?!

  34. 2cents says:

    “….she urged writers “to remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or your imagination”.” (Camilla statement)

    Perhaps unintentionally and indirectly Camilla compliments writer Prince Harry for publishing his memoir Spare.

    It’s been six weeks now since Harry’s book was launched and the royal family still has not officially reacted to its global success.

    So, does Camilla’s statement (with smiling Charles in the background) imply that they approve of Harry’s book Spare and that they would not mind if Harry publishes more books revealing more secrets about his life in the royal family and the Firm?

    Harry already told us that he has another 400 pages ready to publish (but that he thinks Pa and Willy will not forgive him if he did).

    Well, go ahead Harry! Release that sequel of Spare. C&C will applaud you!

    • Mary Pester says:

      2Cents ,well if they dont, I will. I have never really hated anyone in my life, not even the people I was trained to kill (a bit like Harry), you learn to dehumsnise them in order to survive without going mad, but, with the end of my life fast approaching, I find myself feeling hatred towards Charles, William and Camilla. Khate isn’t worth the effort to feel anything but indifference towards How could they treat Harry and Megan the way they have. They preach every day about how they care about people, how they hate injustice, how they stand up for this, that and the other when in actual fact they stand for nothing, other than the safeguarding of themselves and their wealth. They let the best of them get away, NO, they threw them away and the UK is left with THIS!. Well, THIS is what the end of the monarchy looks like, and I hope I live long enough to see it all come falling down

  35. Rnot says:

    Some stories can be updated without damage and some can’t. Huckleberry Finn can’t be bowdlerized without fundamentally changing the work. Some of Dahl’s stories can probably be updated with just a few word changes. His estate seems like the best positioned body to make the decision about individual stories.

  36. Saucy&Sassy says:

    I think she’s one of those people who would be horrified if they pulled any children’s book which are racist, too. She’s a charmer, she is. I hope there are a lot of people like me who will are not in the least interested in seeing her crowned Queen-Escort and will not be watching anything to do with the Chubbly or the Clowning. I think Chuck made a big mistake with this. He should have just let her be a Princess. He’s not the brightest bulb in the pack, is he?

  37. j.ferber says:

    Oddly, she looks like a dystopian Blythe Danner. What the hell has she been doing to herself?

  38. The Recluse says:

    I doubt Camilla HAS a favorite book.

  39. Veronica S. says:

    My warning to my fellow liberals is to be very wary of anything that claims commitment to progress using the tactics of fascist conservatism. You don’t fix the past by sanitizing it, and no corporation that spent decades making money off an author’s “problematic” content is anyone who cares unless it’s appealing to a certain brand of shallow liberalism.

    I am strongly against censorship in any form, even of the most repugnant content, precisely because it is so very easy for the existence of certain groups of people to be deemed unsafe for public consumption. Add context in notes if necessary, but I find it legitimately offensive to change the work of writers and artists to make them more “palatable.”

  40. Slippers4life says:

    I don’t believe critiquing her very real hypocrisy here is “whataboutism” (I’m not saying Kaiser is saying it is here on this site, I get her point, I’m saying right wing royalist trolls are DARVOing the term whatbaboutism when folks are asking Camilla questions online).

    The issue is, the BRF continues to use the excuse, “we can’t be political” to justify saying nothing when racist misogynistic trolls were coming after Meghan. The party line cannot just turn from “we don’t get political” to “we don’t believe in censorship”. If you don’t believe on censorship, then you’ve waded into the political arena and have to be prepared to play and debate things like nuance and ethics and politics. You can’t be “anti censorship” and “apolitical”. Those things are mutually exclusive…UNLESS they want to clearly operationalize what it means for the BRF to be apolitical.

    If apolitical for the BRF means they can’t run for office or endorse candidates, but they are allowed to lobby for causes they care about such as…the early years, then define that. That way, when Kate wears a green dress to an event where women are wearing black, she can’t hide behind, “I’m not allowed to be political”. She has to own that she doesn’t care.

    If Camilla can have a personal opinion that calling a child “fat” is wrong AND advocate it not be removed from a book because of being anti censorship regarding Dahl–and that’s not considered breaking the BRF “apolitical” rules– then surely she can say that she believes racist misogynistic rhetoric towards Meghan is wrong AND she is just anti censorship so she doesn’t censor anything that’s printed about her and doesn’t support censorship towards Peg’s cheating and pegging either.

    You don’t get to wade into the arena without getting your hands dirty. You don’t get to make statements about being anti censorship as the Queen, and not expect people to expect you’re in the game now. Can’t be half in half out!