He is the most famous and popular children’s book authors of all time.
But there was a darker side to British writer Roald Dahl: antisemitism.
The Roald Dahl Museum issued a statement this week condemning his views on Jewish people and describing his racism as “undeniable and indelible”.
“The Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company deeply apologise for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by Roald Dahl’s antisemitic statements,” the statement read.
“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 was a wildly successful author and is famous for his irreverent and macabre works such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and George’s Marvellous Medicine.
He also wrote the autobiographies Boy and Going Solo, which detailed his early childhood holidays in Norway and his service with the Royal Air Force during World War II.
But his later career was plagued by his eyebrow-raising comments about Jews.
During an interview in 1983 he stated: “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. Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.”
The charity said it would not repeat his antisemitic statements publicly, however, it would keep a record of them in the museum’s collection so that they are “not forgotten”.
The Roald Dahl Story Company said it had been working with Jewish networks since 2021 to receive training on combating antisemitism.
“We want to keep listening and talking to explore how our organisation might make further contributions towards combating hate and prejudice, supporting the work of experts already working in this area, including those from the Jewish community.”
The New York Times described some elements of his later works as being “anti-social, brutish and anti-feminist”.
Some of the latest editions of his works have been rewritten to make them less offensive, such as his descriptions of characters and references to race and gender.
Those changes have proved to be controversial, with UK PM Rishi Sunak commenting, “When it comes to our rich and varied literary heritage, the prime minister agrees with the BFG that we shouldn’t gobblefunk around with words.”
Dahl died of cancer aged 74 in 1990 and his grave in Buckinghamshire has become a shrine of sorts for lovers of his literature.