Read Part of an Early Draft of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Slate's Culture Blog
Sept. 2 2014 5:24 PM

Read Part of an Early Draft of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been continuously in print since its debut in 1964, and its popularity is not hard to understand. Roald Dahl’s third children’s novel is a modern-day fairy tale: The good are rewarded and the wicked punished, and magic mingles unassumingly with abject realism. Plus, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory brims with tempting descriptions of delicious-sounding candies with fantastical origin stories.

Late last week, the Guardian shared a previously unpublished chapter from an early draft of the novel, courtesy of Dahl’s estate, and it’s as appetizing and morally satisfying as the book it was eventually excised from. Familiar in its narrative structure but surprising in its details, it’s a must-read for any Dahl fan.


If you’ve read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory recently (or if you practically memorized it when you were a kid), you’ll notice several differences between this chapter and the published book. In this version, there seem to have been 10 children allowed to take a tour of the factory, instead of the 5 children in the published book, and Charlie is accompanied by his mother, instead of by Grandpa Joe. As the chapter begins, Augustus Pottle and Miranda Grope—two characters who would be conflated into Augustus Gloop in the final version—have just been sucked into tubes filled with molten chocolate. The children are then ushered into a room that is awe-inspiring and mouth-watering:

In the centre of the room there was an actual mountain, a colossal jagged mountain as high as a five-storey building, and the whole thing was made of pale-brown, creamy, vanilla fudge. All the way up the sides of the mountain, hundreds of men were working away with picks and drills, hacking great hunks of fudge out of the mountainside; and some of them, those that were high up in dangerous places, were roped together for safety.

As this description of the workers indicates, Dahl had not conceived of Oompa-Loompas at this point—according to the Guardian, they were invented after Dahl's agent suggested the workers should be “something more surprising.” But the workers in the unpublished chapter, like the Oompa-Loompas, have a penchant for singing about the misfortunes that befall the children. And misfortunes abound: As in the published version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this chapter imparts the lesson that selfish and greedy children will ultimately be punished. (In this case, the selfish and greedy children bear the whimsical names Wilbur Rice and Tommy Troutbeck.) To learn the gruesome details of that punishment, head over to the Guardianthe chapter is short, and the revenge sweet.

L.V. Anderson is a Slate assistant editor. She edits Slate's food and drink sections and writes Brow Beat's recipe column, You're Doing It Wrong. 



Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.


Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Damned Spot
Sept. 30 2014 9:00 AM Now Stare. Don’t Stop. The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 30 2014 10:10 AM A Lovable Murderer and Heroic Villain: The Story of Australia's Most Iconic Outlaw
  Double X
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal. But… What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.