Roald Dahl Museum says Author’s Racism was ‘Undeniable’

Thursday, July 20, 2023
Roald Dahl Museum says Author’s Racism was ‘Undeniable’

The Roald Dahl Museum in England, founded by the widow of the children’s author, has acknowledged his racism was “undeniable and indelible.”

Dahl, who died in 1990, was the creator of characters such as Matilda, the BFG, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Willy Wonka and the Twits. His books have sold more than 300 million copies and have been translated into 63 languages, while there have been numerous adaptations of his work for both the big and small screens.

However, the author has long been regarded as controversial for his openly antisemitic views. Now the museum, based in the village of Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire where Dahl lived, has posted a statement on its website to say that it “fully” supports an apology released by the Dahl family and Roald Dahl Story Company in 2020 for the author’s antisemitic views.

Statement : The Roald Dahl Museum condemns all racism directed at any group or individual. We fully support the apology made in 2020 by the Dahl family and Roald Dahl Story Company for Dahl’s antisemitic views about Jewish people. Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.

 “The Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company deeply apologise for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by Roald Dahl's antisemitic statements. 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.”

The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre is a charity which uses our collection and location to reveal Roald Dahl’s creative craft and help our visitors explore the possibility of their own creativity: we believe everyone is a storymaker.

We are working to be more welcoming to all who might wish to visit in person or online, by reflecting the visible diversity of our audiences in our marketing, by running accessible and inclusive recruitment campaigns for staff or trustee positions, by training our people to better understand and welcome everyone, equitably. We are working hard to do better and know we have more to do.

We do not repeat Dahl’s antisemitic statements publicly, but we do keep a record of what he wrote and said in the Museum’s collection, so it is not forgotten.

Since 2021 we have engaged with several organisations within the Jewish community, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Community Security Trust, and the Antisemitism Policy Trust. This process has included training for our staff and trustees from the Antisemitism Policy Trust.

We want to keep listening and talking to explore how our organisation might make further contributions towards combatting hate and prejudice, supporting the work of experts already working in this area, including those from the Jewish community.

As a first step to do something constructive, consultation with stakeholders has led to the careful, considered development of resources for Key Stage 2 PHSE and Citizenship teaching in schools. This work seeks to combat prejudice by championing universal children’s rights, explored through the experiences of characters in Roald Dahl’s stories.

Roald Dahl’s racism is undeniable and indelible but what we hope can also endure is the potential of Dahl’s creative legacy to do some good.

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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