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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Author Roald Dahl
Illustrator Joseph Schindelman (first U.S. edition)
Faith Jacques (first UK edition)
Michael Foreman (1985 edition)
Quentin Blake (1995 edition)
Original Publication date 1964 (US)
1967 (UK)
Originally Published by Alfred A. Knopf (original)
Penguin Books (current)
Publication Order
Preceded by
James and the Giant Peach (1961)
Followed by
The Magic Finger (1966)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 1964 children's book by British author Roald Dahl. This story features the adventures on the new products. At that time (around the 1920s), Cadbury and Rowntree's were England's two largest chocolate makers and they each often try to steal trade secrets by sending spies, posing as employees, into the other's factory. Because of this, both companies became highly protective of their chocolate-making processes. It was a combination of this secrecy and the elaborate, often gigantic, machines in the factory that inspired Dahl to write the story.

In 1971, it was adapted into a film called Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. In 2005, another film remake called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was released. In 2023, a prequel story focusing on Willy Wonka known as Wonka was released.


Charlie Bucket lives in poverty with his parents and four grandparents in a dilapidated, tiny house. Charlie is fascinated by the universally-celebrated chocolate factory located in his hometown owned by famous chocolatier Willy Wonka. His Grandpa Joe often tells him stories about Wonka and his mysterious chocolate factory, how it had been shuttered for years, and how it inexplicably re-opened and resumed candy production without any evidence of employees.

Soon after, an article in the newspaper reveals that Willy Wonka has hidden five Golden Tickets in five Wonka Bars all over the world. Charlie longs for chocolate to satisfy his hunger and to find a Golden Ticket himself, but his chances are slim (his father has recently lost his job, leaving the family all but destitute) and word on the discovery of the tickets keeps appearing in various articles read by the Bucket family. From greedy and gluttonous Augustus Gloop and spoiled Veruca Salt to gum-obsessed Violet Beauregarde and television-obsessed Mike Teavee. Eventually, Charlie finds a ticket of his own.

The children, once in the factory, are taken to the Chocolate Room, where they are introduced to Oompa Loompas, from Loompaland, who have been helping Wonka at the factory. While there, Augustus falls into the chocolate river and is sucked up by a pipe and eliminated from the tour. They are soon taken to the Inventing Room, where Violet chews a piece of experimental gum, and blows up into a giant blueberry; she is the second child removed from the tour. After an exhausting jog down a series of corridors, Wonka allows his guests to rest outside of the Nut Room, but refuses them entry. Veruca, seeing squirrels inside, demands one from Wonka, but when she is refused, she invades the Nut Room, where the squirrels attack her, judge her a bad nut and throw her down the garbage chute. Likewise with her parents, who go in to rescue her. The remaining visitors travel via Great Glass Elevator to the Television Room, where Mike accidentally shrinks himself to a few inches tall using a teleporter Wonka invented, and is the last to be eliminated from the tour.

Charlie, being the last child left, wins the prize - the factory itself. Wonka had distributed the Golden Tickets to find an heir, and Charlie was the only one who passed the test. Together they go to Charlie's house in the glass elevator and take the whole family back to the chocolate factory to live out the rest of their lives.

Missing chapters[]

As "lost chapters" recently found reveal, in unpublished drafts of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory far more than five children got the golden ticket to tour Willy Wonka's secret chocolate factory, far more than four were eliminated, and the children faced more rooms and more temptations to test their self-control.

The Fiction Circus reports: "Evidently, Roald Dahl didn't just kill four children in the original version of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.' Evidently he killed hundreds! For the sake of time and sales, his editor forced him to take out several murdered children, especially the British ones, sticking with two Americans, an aristocrat, and a German."

"Spotty Powder"[]

In 2005, The London Times revealed an "ugly boy" chapter - titled "Spotty Powder" - had been found in Dahl's desk, written backwards in mirror-script (the way Da Vinci wrote in his journal). This chapter includes a humorless, smug girl (Miranda Piker) and her equally humorless father (a schoolmaster) who disappear into the Spotty Powder room - where a candy is made that makes red, pox-like spots appear on the children's faces and necks making it look like chicken-pox/measles, so they won't have to go to school. This enrages the Pikers, who set out to sabotage the machine. The Fiction Circus explains "The chapter was cut because it implies that Willy Wonka is a cannibal, and that he feeds children to their enemies, just like Polynesian islanders and Titus Andronicus."

"Fudge Mountain"[]

In 2014, The Guardian revealed that Dahl had cut another chapter from an earlier draft of the book, titled "Fudge Mountain". The Guardian reports the now-eliminated passage was "deemed too wild, subversive and insufficiency moral for the tender minds of British children almost 50 years ago." In what was originally chapter five in that version of that book, Charlie goes to the factory with his mother - not his grandfather, and the chocolate factory tour, at this point down to eight kids, includes Tommy Troutback and Wilbur Rice, who wind up in the Vanilla Fudge Mountain cutting room, due to their own greed. Additionally, reports NPR's Krishnadev Calamur: "The chapter reveals the original larger cast of characters, and their fates, as well as the original names of some of those who survived into later drafts. Dahl originally intended to send Charlie into the chocolate factory with eight other children, but the number was slimmed down to four. The narrator reveals that a girl named Miranda Grope had already vanished into the chocolate river with Augustus Pottle: she is gone forever, but the greedy boy was reincarnated into Augustus Gloop."


Favorable views[]

A fan of the book since childhood, Tim Burton states "I responded to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because it respected the fact that children can be adults." In a 2006 list for the Royal Society of Literature, author J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter books) named Charlie and the Chocolate Factory among her top ten books every child should read.

A 2004 study found that it was a common read-aloud book for fourth-graders in schools in San Diego County, California. A 2012 survey by the University of Worcester determined that it was one of the most common books that UK adults had read as children, after Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Wind in the Willows.

Accolades for this book include:

  • New England Round Table of Children's Librarians Award (USA, 1972)
  • Surrey School Award (UK, 1973)
  • Millennium Children's Book Award (UK, 2000)
  • Blue Peter Book Award (UK, 2000)
  • The Big Read poll conducted by the BBC listed the book at number 35 of the "nation's best-loved novels" (UK, 2003)
  • National Education Association "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children" based on a poll (USA, 2007)
  • School Library Journal "Top 100 Chapter Books" of all time based on a poll (USA, 2012)

Unfavorable views and revisions[]

Although the book has been popular and considered a children's classic by many literary critics, a number of prominent individuals have spoken critically of the novel over the years. Dominic Cheetham observers that numerous publishers turned down Dahl's book and even Knopf - the original, American publisher - agreed both that the book was in bad taste and books should not be aimed at both children and adults, as was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Children's novelist and literary historian John Rowe Townsend has described the book as "fantasy of an almost literally nauseating kind" and accused it of "astonishing insensitivity" regarding the original portrayal of the Oompa-Loompas as black pygmies, although Dahl did revise that later. Cheetham notes that no outcry over was raised about the anti-Indian sentiment shown in the "humorless, but belittling" naming of the Indian Prince Pondicherry and the portrayal of the "incredible stupidity in a stereotyped racial icon.

Another novelist, Eleanor Cameron, compared the book to the sweets that form its subject matter, commenting that it is "delectable and soothing while we are undergoing the brief sensory pleasure it affords but leave its poorly nourished with our taste of dulled for better fare". Ursula K. Let Guin voiced her support for this assessment in a letter to Cameron. Defenders of the book have pointed out it was unusual for its time in being quite dark for a children's book, with the "antagonists" not being adults or monsters (as in the case for most of Dahl's books) but the naughty children, who receive sadistic punishment in the end. However, despite criticisms and complaints about the "high-handed way in which Mr Willy Wonka treats other people in the book", Mr. Wonka remains authoritarian, the supposedly tasteless features remain, the violence to the various children remains, and the supposedly dual nature of the intended readership also remains firmly unchanged.

Cheetham had catalogued additional criticisms about the book, including: "General Attitudes to Foreigners", citing the treatment of characters who may be perceived as American (Cheetham, p. 10), in addition to the African and Indian characters noted above; "Employer-Employee Relations" (Cheetham, pp. 10-11); "Human Guinea Pigs" (Cheetham, p. 11); "General Attitudes Towards Class" (Cheetham, pp. 11-12); "The Myth of Noble Poverty" (Cheetham, p. 12); "Attitudes to Children" (Cheetham, p. 12); "Attitudes to Parenthood" (Cheetham, pp. 12-13); and "Alcohol Abuse" (Cheetham, p. 13).

The cover art for Penguin UK's Modern Classics 50th Anniversary Edition of the book (publication date September 2014) has also received substantial criticism for his taste level and age-appropriateness. (See Editions.)


In addition to spawning a sequel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has frequently been adapted for other media, including games, radio, the screen, and stage, most often as plays and musicals for children - often titled Willy Wonka or Willy Wonka, Jr. and almost always featuring musical numbers by all the main characters (Wonka, Charlie, Grandpa Joe, Violet, Veruca, etc.); many of these songs are revised versions from the 1971 film.

  • The book was first made into a feature film as a musical, titled Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), directed by Mel Stuart, produced by David L. Wolper and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, character actor Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe, and Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket. The film had an estimated budget of $2.9 million but grossed only $4 million and was considered a box-office disappointment. Exponential home video and DVD sales, as well as repeated television airings, resulted in the film subsequently becoming a cult classic. Concurrently with the 1971 film, the Quaker Oats Company introduced a line of candies whose marketing uses the book's characters and imagery.
  • The BBC produced an adaptation for Radio 4 in the early 1980s.
  • In 1985, the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory video game was released for the ZX Spectrum by developers Soft Option Ltd and publisher Hill MacGibbon.
  • In 2005, another adaptation titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) was released. It was directed by Tim Burton and stared Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket, Deep Roy as the Oompa-Loompas, and Geoffrey Holder as the Narrator. The film was a hit, grossing about $470 million worldwide with an estimated budget of $150 million. The 1971 and 2005 films are consistent with the written work to varying degrees. The Burton film greatly expanded Willy Wonka's personal back-story borrowing many themes and elements from the book's sequel. Both films heavily expanded the personalities of the four bad children and their parents from the limited descriptions in the book.
  • A video game, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory based on Burton's adaptation, was released on 11 July 2005.
  • On 1 April 2006, the British theme park, Alton Towers, opened a family attraction themed around the story. The ride features a boat section, where guests travel along the chocolate factory in bright pink boats on a chocolate river. In the final stage of the ride, guests enter one of two glass elevators, where they join Willy Wonka as they travel round the factory, eventually shooting up and out through the glass roof.
  • The Estate of Roald Dahl sanctioned an operatic adaptation called The Golden Ticket. It is written by American composer Peter Ash and British librettist Donald Sturrock. The Golden Ticket has completely original music and was commissioned by American Lyric Theater, Lawrence Edelson (producing artistic director), and Felicity Dahl. The opera received its world premiere at Opera Theater of Saint Louis on 13 June 2010, in a co-production with American Lyric Theater and Wexford Festival Opera.
  • A musical based on the novel called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical premiered at the West End's Theater Royal, Dury Lane in May 2013 and officially opened on 25 June. The show is directed by Sam Mendes and stars Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka.
  • Netflix will make an animated adaptation of the book as part of a Roald Dahl "animated event" series.
  • In 2023, Wonka was released featuring Mathew Baynton as Fickelgruber and Timothee Chalamet as Wonka.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has undergone numerous editions and been illustrated by numerous artists.

External links[]