“However small the chance might be of striking lucky,
the chance was there.”
― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Chocolate
Nobody has seen Willy Wonka - or inside his amazing chocolate factory - for years. When he announces plans to invite the winners of five Golden Tickets hidden inside the wrappers of chocolate bars to visit his factory, the whole world is after those tickets!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is perhaps Roald Dahl’s best-known story. The story of Charlie Bucket, the five Golden Tickets, the Oompa-Loompas and the amazing Mr Willy Wonka has become firmly embedded in our culture since it was first published in 1964. Conservative estimates suggest the original book has sold over 20 million copies worldwide; it is now available in 55 languages.
Roald Dahl began working on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1961 shortly after finishing James and the Giant Peach, but its origins can be traced all the way back to Roald's own childhood. In Boy he tells us how, while at school in England, he and his fellow Repton students were engaged as 'taste testers' for a chocolate company - something that seems to have started him thinking about chocolate factories and inventing rooms long before Mr Wonka was on the scene. But when he came to write Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the story went through several drafts - for example, at first Charlie was one of ten children to enter the factory. Roald re-drafted three or four times until the story as we now know it was released in 1964.
Since its release Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which Roald dedicated to his son Theo, has proved to be one of the most enduring children’s books of all time. The story has reached all corners of the world and even unearthed a real-life Willy Wonka, who sent Roald a letter in 1971 - the year the first film adaptation of the book was released.
Roald wrote the screenplay for the film release of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. It was a process that came with some difficulties but the film went on to become a classic, with its now-iconic depictions of many of the story's key elements, from Golden Tickets to Everlasting Gobstoppers. In 2005, 15 years after Roald’s death, renowned filmmaker Tim Burton released his own adaptation of the book. His Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starred Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. In 2010 The Golden Ticket - an opera based on the story, composed by Peter Ash with libretto by Donald Sturrock - premiered in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. And, in 2013, a new musical production opened in London’s West End, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Douglas Hodge as Mr Wonka.
In 2014 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory celebrates its 50th anniversary. As part of the many events planned to mark this special occasion, author Lucy Mangan will be taking a look at how the story of Charlie has become a story itself in a new book that will take us all inside the Chocolate Factory, published in September 2014.