Roald Dahl's Family Apologizes for 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' Author's Antisemitism

Roald Dahl's books remain as popular today as they were during his lifetime, but the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory author had antisemitic views. Now, 30 years after his death, his family quietly posted an apology for those views on the official Dahl website. Dahl's anti-semitic views have always been under scrutiny and came up again when the Royal Mint canceled plans to celebrate the centennial of his birth.

"The Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company deeply apologize for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by some of Roald Dahl's statements," the statement, published Sunday, reads. "Those prejudiced remarks are incomprehensible to us and stand in marked contrast to the man we knew and to the values at the heart of Roald Dahl's stories, which have positively impacted young people for generations. We hope that, just as he did at his best, at his absolute worst, Roald Dahl can help remind us of the lasting impact of words."

Dahl made antisemitic comments in a 1983 interview with the New Statesman, reports The Guardian. He told the publication there is a "trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it's a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there's always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere." He later added, "Even a stinker like Hitler didn't just pick on them for no reason."

Months before Dahl's death in 1990, he told the Independent he was antisemitic and complained about the "Jewish-owned" media. "I'm certainly anti-Israeli and I've become antisemitic in as much as that you get a Jewish person in another country like England strongly supporting Zionism," Dahl said at the time. "I think they should see both sides. It's the same old thing: we all know about Jews and the rest of it. There aren't any non-Jewish publishers anywhere, they control the media – jolly clever thing to do – that's why the president of the United States has to sell all this stuff to Israel."

Dahl's antisemitic views are not included in his biography on his website and the new apology was not sent to Jewish groups. In November 2018, The Guardian obtained documents confirming that the Royal Mint dropped plans to mark the 100th anniversary of Dahl's birth in 2016 due to his antisemitic views. The Royal Mint rejected proposals honoring The BFG author because he was "not regarded as an author of the highest reputation." Instead, the Royal Mint chose to honor William Shakespeare and Beatrix Potter.

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Dahl's books have been adapted into dozens of films and television shows. In 2018, Netflix signed a $1 billion deal to develop new movies and shows based on his work. HBO Max also released another adaptation of his novel The Witches in October, starring Anne Hathaway. Dahl's books include The Fantastic Mr. Fox, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda, all of which have been turned into movies.