Brow Beat

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Late last week, the Guardian shared a previously unpublished chapter from an early draft of the novel, courtesy of Dahl’s estate, and it’s as appetizing and morally satisfying as the book it was eventually excised from.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 But the workers in the unpublished chapter, like the Oompa-Loompas, have a penchant for singing about the misfortunes that befall the children.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.