Danny, the Champion of the World

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Danny the Champion of the World
Original book cover
Author Roald Dahl
IllustratorJill Bennett (original)
Quentin Blake
CountryUnited Kingdom
Genre Children's
Published1975 Jonathan Cape (original)
Puffin Books (current)
Media typePrint (Hardback, Paperback)
ISBN 0-14-032873-4

Danny, the Champion of the World is a 1975 children's book by Roald Dahl. The plot centres on Danny, a young English boy, and his father, William, who live in a Gypsy caravan fixing cars for a living and partake in poaching pheasants. It was first published in 1975 in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and in the United Kingdom by Jonathan Cape.

Roald Dahl British novelist, short story writer, poet, fighter pilot and screenwriter

Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and fighter pilot. His books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide.

Vardo (Romani wagon)

A vardo is a traditional horse-drawn wagon used by British Romani people as their home. Possessing a chimney, it is commonly thought of as being highly decorated, intricately carved, brightly painted, and even gilded. The British Romani tradition of the vardo is seen as a high cultural point of both artistic design and a masterpiece of woodcrafters art. The heyday of the living wagon lasted for roughly 70 years, from the mid-1800s through the first two decades of the twentieth century. Not used for year-around living today, they are shown at the Romanichal horse fairs held throughout the year, the best known of which is Appleby Horse Fair.

Poaching illegal taking of wild fish and so on

Poaching has been defined as the illegal hunting or capturing of wild animals, usually associated with land use rights. Poaching was performed by impoverished peasants for subsistence purposes and a supplement for meager diets. It was set against the hunting privileges of nobility and territorial rulers.


It was adapted into a made-for-TV movie in 1989 by Thames Television which starred Jeremy Irons. It is based on Dahl's adult short story "Champion of the World" which first appeared in print in The New Yorker magazine, [1] as did some of the other short stories that would later be reprinted as Kiss Kiss (1960). Peter Serafinowicz provides the English language audiobook recording. [2] Time included the novel in its list of the 100 Best Young-Adult Books of All Time. [3]

<i>Danny, the Champion of the World</i> (film) 1989 film by Gavin Millar

Danny, the Champion of the World is a 1989 film starring British Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons, with his son, Samuel, in the title role. It is based on the 1975 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl, and tells of a father and son who conspire to thwart a local businessman's plans to buy their land by poaching his game pheasants. It was filmed on location in Oxfordshire, mostly at Stonor Park, Henley-on-Thames. The book is written in the style of a reflective memoir by an adult Danny, who the reader might presume grew up in 1950s or 1960s rural England: however, Chapter 6 reveals that the period was in fact the 1970s, given that the "Baby Austin" car that William and Danny were repairing was more than 40 years old, having been made in 1933. The film is set in 1955.

Thames Television Former ITV network franchise

Thames Television was a franchise holder for a region of the British ITV television network serving London and surrounding area on weekdays from 30 July 1968 until the night of 31 December 1992. It continued as an independent production company until 2003.

Jeremy Irons English actor

Jeremy John Irons is an English actor. After receiving classical training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Irons began his acting career on stage in 1969 and has since appeared in many West End theatre productions, including The Winter's Tale, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, Godspell, Richard II, and Embers. In 1984, he made his Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing and received a Tony Award for Best Actor.


Danny was only four months old when his mother died. At the beginning of the book, he lives with his widowed father, William, in an old caravan behind the service station and garage owned and operated by his father. At the age of nine, Danny learns that his father is an avid poacher, as was his father's father. Shortly thereafter, Danny wakes at 2:10 am to find his father hasn't returned from his latest poaching venture on the property of the local beer magnate, Mr Hazell. Danny drives to the property and finds his father in a trap, incapacitated by a broken ankle. Danny rescues his father and helps him home. While his father recovers from his injury, he and Danny realize Mr. Hazell's annual pheasant shoot is approaching - an event to which he invites wealthy, powerful and influential people. Danny and his father decide to humiliate Mr Hazell by capturing all the pheasants in the forest. To accomplish this, they place the contents of the sleeping pills prescribed to Danny's father by the village doctor, Doc Spencer, into raisins that the pheasants will eat; Danny's father calls this new method "Sleeping Beauty".

After having successfully captured 120 pheasants from Hazell's Wood, Danny and his father take a taxi (driven by a fellow poacher) to the local vicarage, where they hide the pheasants. Afterwards, they walk home. The next day, the vicar's wife (Mrs Clipstone) delivers the sleeping pheasants to Danny's father's garage in a specially built baby carriage; however, the pheasants start flying out of the baby carriage as the narcotic wears off. The birds do not travel far, as they're still sleepy. During the commotion, Mr. Hazell arrives and confronts Danny, his father and Doc Spencer. With the help of Sergeant Enoch Samways, the village policeman, Danny and his father shoo the stunned pheasants over (and in some cases inside) Mr. Hazell's Rolls Royce, damaging the car's paintwork in the process. As Mr. Hazell leaves disgraced, the pheasants wake up completely and fly away in the opposite direction from Hazell's property. The book ends when Danny is hailed as "the champion of the world" by his father, Doc Spencer and Sgt. Samways. Six pheasants died of a sleeping pill overdose, so Doc Spencer gives two each to Sgt Samways, Mrs Clipstone and Danny and his father. Danny and his father then walk into town, intending to buy a new oven to cook their pheasants. They also discuss possibly attempting to poach trout from a local stream.

TV movie

The book was adapted into a made-for-TV movie in 1989 by Thames Television. It was directed by Gavin Millar and starred Jeremy Irons as William and his son, Samuel, as Danny, with Robbie Coltrane as Mr. Hazell. It was released to Region 2 DVD in 2006.

Gavin Millar is a Scottish film director, critic and television presenter.

Robbie Coltrane Scottish actor

Anthony Robert McMillan, known professionally as Robbie Coltrane, is a Scottish actor and author. He is known for his roles as Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter films, as Valentin Dmitrovich Zhukovsky in the James Bond films GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, and as Dr. Eddie "Fitz" Fitzgerald in the British TV series Cracker during the 1990s.

Relations to other Roald Dahl books

Danny, The Champion of the World is based on a previous short story by Dahl, entitled The Champion of the World, which was first published in The New Yorker Magazine in 1959 and later re-published in the compilation Kiss Kiss . The original story has a similar premise, but with adults as the main characters.

<i>Kiss Kiss</i> (book) collection of short stories by Roald Dahl, first published in 1960

Kiss Kiss is a collection of short stories by Roald Dahl, first published in 1960 by Alfred A. Knopf. Most of the constituent stories had been previously published elsewhere.

William tells Danny a bedtime story sequence of a "Big Friendly Giant" who captures good dreams and blows them into children's bedrooms at night. Dahl would later use the same concept in the full-length novel entitled The BFG .

<i>The BFG</i> 1982 childrens book written by Roald Dahl

The BFG is a 1982 children's book written by British novelist Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake. It is an expansion of a short story from Dahl's 1975 book Danny, the Champion of the World. The book is dedicated to Dahl's late daughter, Olivia, who died of measles encephalitis at the age of seven in 1962. As of 2009, the novel has sold 37 million copies in UK editions alone, with more than 1 million copies sold around the world every year.

Danny describes being caned by his teacher, Captain Lancaster, for cheating in an exam. This is similar to an experience that Dahl recounted of his own teacher, Captain Hardcastle, in Boy: Tales of Childhood .


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  1. All works by Roald Dahl. The New Yorker . Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  2. "Danny, the Champion of the World". Penguin Books. Retrieved 20 November 2015
  3. "100 Best Young-Adult Books". Time. Retrieved 30 October 2019.