Your 7 favourite Roald Dahl characters



“She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.” Readers have loved Matilda since it was first published back in 1988, with a film adaptation and stage musical arriving later. Young Matilda Wormwood, a child genius with a taste for reading far beyond her years, continues to inspire audiences. BBC Culture Facebook fan Julie Cummings-Debrot says that Matilda is “a classic” in her home, and thinks that the book has as much of an impact on parents as it does on children. (Credit: Matilda, Quentin Blake, Puffin)

Miss Trunchbull from Matilda

“I cannot for the life of me understand why small children take so long to grow up. I think they do it deliberately, just to annoy me.” Roald Dahl knew how to create villains that you just love to hate and Miss Trunchbull may be the best of them all. Feared by staff and pupils, Trunchbull’s extreme punishments make her one of the best monsters of children’s literature. Reader Sophia Abbasi thinks that the character is Dahl’s greatest creation, adding: “[She was] played wonderfully in the film adaptation by Pam Ferris – she was exactly how I imagined her.” (Credit: Matilda, Quentin Blake, Puffin)

Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

“I, Willy Wonka, have decided to allow five children – just five, mind you, and no more – to visit my factory this year.” Dahl tapped into every child’s dream with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Willy Wonka makes it all the more magical. You never quite know what Wonka is going to do next, and his mysterious nature makes him one of Dahl’s most fascinating characters. Reader Catherine Ens loves Wonka for the “wonderful message” he has for children. “No one can resist his imagination and his creations,” she writes. (Credit: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Quentin Blake, Puffin)


“The matter with human beans,” the BFG went on, “is that they is absolutely refusing to believe in anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles.” A 24-foot-tall giant who delivers good dreams to children, The BFG made his first appearance in Danny, the Champion of the World, before getting his own story in 1985. Facebook follower Nicola Griffiths still remembers reading the book for the first time and immediately “fell in love” with the character, as well as being “terrified of the mean giants”. Steven Spielberg is currently working on a live-action version of The BFG, which is due for release next year. (Credit: The BFG, Quentin Blake, Puffin)

The Umbrella Man

“I’ll bet he prays like mad for rainy days.” Dahl may be famous around the world for his children’s books, but his adult work should not be overlooked. The Umbrella Man may seem a simple story on the surface, but the old man is a difficult character to work out, and readers have wildly different opinions on his motives. Facebook fan Baphomet Horus loves how unpredictable and resourceful the Umbrella Man is. “Everything he does is unexpected,” he says. (Credit: Alamy)

Mary Maloney from Lamb to the Slaughter

“…without any pause she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his head.” Mary Maloney murders her husband after he tells her that he is leaving her, and goes on to feed the murder weapon, a leg of lamb, to the investigating detectives – Dahl certainly knew how to be dark. Reader Maria Ioannou loves Mary more than any other Dahl character, because she believes that “we could all be Mary Maloney”. She explains: “Her reaction is beautifully wild and the kind of fantasy move we have all sometimes, for a second, wanted to do”. (Credit: Getty)

William from Danny, the Champion of the World

“A stodgy parent is no fun at all. What a child wants and deserves is a parent who is SPARKY.” Danny’s love for his father, William, is at the heart of Dahl’s book, which celebrates close parent/child relationships. BBC Culture reader Annemieke Berger says the book is her daughter’s favourite, because “all adventures with your dad are the best”. (Credit: Danny, the Champion of the World, Quentin Blake, Puffin)

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Olivia Wilson
By Olivia Wilson


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