The author Roald Dahl left a huge legacy of famous children's books (many adapted into popular movies) including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach. But the conversation in more recent years about the man's work has been about his unapologetic antisemitic views and the racism in his work.
Now, the London museum that was most closely aligned with Dahl, The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Center, has weighed in. The museum, which was founded by his widow, says it's co-signing a 2020 apology that the late author's family made and will "explore how our organisation [sic] might make further contributions toward combating hate and prejudice," the Washington Post reports.
In its statement, the museum calls it undeniable that Dahl's racism was real, but says it still wants to use "Dahl's creative legacy to do some good." In addition to its statement, the museum has put up a sign at the entrance condemning Dahl's views—even as it continues to make the museum more accessible to more people.
Dahl's books have been the subject of debate in recent years as Penguin, the publisher of his work, decided to make tweaks to the texts to make them more inclusive. Doing that created its own outrage cycle, as some felt it was going too far to revise already-published classic books.
The museum's overall statement suggests a complicated man who had some awful, no-good views. “In his life, Roald Dahl was a contradictory person. He could be kind; he often helped people, donated to charity, and contributed to medical science. However, there are also recorded incidents of him being very unkind and worse, including writing and saying antisemitic things about Jewish people,” the museum says on its website. "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.”
This all comes as a new movie starring Timothée Chalamet and Hugh Grant, Wonka (a prequel to Charlie), is due out later this year. Good luck on those press junkets, Chalamet!