Roald Dahl’s family has apologized for his anti-Semitism in a statement deep inside the author’s official website.
Dahl, who died 30 years ago, is described on the site as “the best storyteller in the world,” whose books – including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and The BFG – have been enrapturing children since the 1960s.
But Dahl was also an anti-Semite. In an interview with the New Statesman in 1983, he said, “There is a quality in the Jewish character that arouses hostility, perhaps it is some kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there’s always a reason anti-something is popping up all over the place. “
He added, “Not even a stinker like Hitler would pick them up just like that.”
Now the family has quietly apologized for his comments. Their statement reads: “The Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company apologize for the continuing and understandable pain caused by some of Roald Dahl’s statements.
“Those biased comments are incomprehensible to us and are in stark contrast to the man we knew and the values that underlie Roald Dahl’s stories, which have positively impacted young people for generations.
“We hope that Roald Dahl, just as he did his best, can in the worst case help us remember the lasting impact of words.”
There is no mention of Dahl’s anti-Semitic views in the author’s official biography on the site. The family’s apology has not been sent to Jewish organizations.
Dahl was born in Wales in 1916 to Norwegian parents. While serving in the RAF, he was seriously injured when his Gladiator crash-landed in Libya. His first children’s book, The Gremlins, was published in 1943, followed by James and the Giant Peach in 1961, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1964 and Fantastic Mr Fox in 1970.
He also co-wrote screenplays for the James Bond film You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and also wrote adult novels.
Many of his children’s books have been made into films, for television and on the stage. In 2018, the last period for which data is available, Dahl’s estate posted an annual pre-tax profit of £ 12.7 million from television and cinema deals, royalties, fancy dress costumes and a range of baby toiletries.
Earlier this year, Netflix announced that Oscar-winning director Taika Waititi was making an animated series of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and a second about the Oompa-Loompas, the factory workers in the book. In October, Warner Bros released The Witches, a film based on Dahl’s 1983 book of the same name, starring Anne Hathaway.
In addition to his infamous interview with the New Statesman, Dahl later acknowledged his anti-Semitism in an article in the Independent in 1990. He said, “I am definitely anti-Israeli, and I have become anti-Semitic as much as you get. a Jewish person in another country like England who strongly supports Zionism. I think they should see both sides.
“It’s the same old thing: we all know about Jews and the rest. There are no non-Jewish publishers anywhere, they control the media – very smart thing to do – that’s why the president of the United States has to sell all this stuff to Israel. “
Shortly before his death, Dahl received a letter from two San Francisco children saying, “Dear Mr. Dahl, we love your books, but we have a problem… we are Jews !! We love your books, but you don’t like us because we are Jews. That offends us! Could you please change your mind about what you said about Jews? Love, Aliza and Tamar. “
Two years ago, the Royal Mint dropped plans to celebrate the Dahl’s life with a commemorative coin over concerns about his anti-Semitic views. Official documents obtained by the Guardian revealed that the Royal Mint concluded that he was “not considered an author of the highest reputation.”