Matilda (novel)

Last updated

Matilda
MatildaCover.jpg
First UK edition
Author Roald Dahl
Illustrator Quentin Blake
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Genre Children's literature, Fantasy
Published1 October 1988
Publisher Jonathan Cape

Matilda is a book by British writer Roald Dahl. It was published in 1988 by Jonathan Cape in London, with 232 pages and illustrations by Quentin Blake. It was adapted as an audio reading by actress Kate Winslet, a 1996 feature film directed by Danny DeVito, a two-part BBC Radio 4 programme starring Lauren Mote as Matilda, Emerald O'Hanrahan as Miss Honey, Nichola McAuliffe as Miss Trunchbull and narrated by Lenny Henry, and a 2010 musical. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Book medium for a collection of words and/or pictures to represent knowledge or a fictional story, often manifested in bound paper and ink, or in e-books

As a physical object, a book is a stack of usually rectangular pages oriented with one edge tied, sewn, or otherwise fixed together and then bound to the flexible spine of a protective cover of heavier, relatively inflexible material. The technical term for this physical arrangement is codex. In the history of hand-held physical supports for extended written compositions or records, the codex replaces its immediate predecessor, the scroll. A single sheet in a codex is a leaf, and each side of a leaf is a page.

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.

Jonathan Cape British publisher

Jonathan Cape is a London publishing firm founded in 1921 by Herbert Jonathan Cape, who was head of the firm until his death in 1960.

Contents

In 2012 Matilda was ranked number 30 among all-time children's novels in a survey published by School Library Journal , a monthly with primarily US audience. It was the first of four books by Dahl among the Top 100, more than any other writer. [5] Time included Matilda in its list of the 100 Best Young-Adult Books of All Time. [6] Worldwide sales have reached 17 million, and since 2016 sales have spiked to the extent that it outsells Dahl's other works. [7]

<i>School Library Journal</i> US monthly magazine

The School Library Journal is an American monthly magazine with articles and reviews for school librarians, media specialists, and public librarians who work with young people. Articles cover a wide variety of topics, with a focus on technology and multimedia. Reviews are included for preschool to 4th grade, grades 5 and up, and teens. Both fiction and non-fiction titles are reviewed, as are graphic novels, multimedia, and digital resources. Also included are reviews of professional reading for librarians and reference books.

Time is an American weekly news magazine and news website published in New York City. It was founded in 1923 and originally run by Henry Luce. A European edition is published in London and also covers the Middle East, Africa, and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong. The South Pacific edition, which covers Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, is based in Sydney. In December 2008, Time discontinued publishing a Canadian advertiser edition.

Plot

In a small Buckinghamshire village, Matilda Wormwood, a five-and-half-year-old girl of unusual precocity, whose parents treat her with disdain, resorts to pranks like gluing her father's hat to his head, hiding a friend's parrot in the chimney to simulate a burglar or ghost, and secretly bleaching her father's hair, to get revenge on her parents (particularly her father) for being so mean to her. Matilda has read a variety of books by different authors, especially at the age of four, when she read many in six months.

Buckinghamshire County of England

Buckinghamshire, abbreviated Bucks, is a ceremonial county in South East England which borders Greater London to the south east, Berkshire to the south, Oxfordshire to the west, Northamptonshire to the north, Bedfordshire to the north east and Hertfordshire to the east.

Matilda Wormwood fictional character in Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel Matilda

Matilda Wormwood, also known by her adoptive name Matilda Honey, is the title character of the bestselling children's novel Matilda by Roald Dahl. She is a highly precocious six and a half year old girl who has a passion for reading books. Her parents do not recognize her great intelligence and show little interest in her, particularly her father, a secondhand car dealer who has performed numerous verbally abusive actions on her. She discovers she has psychokinetic powers which she uses to her advantage. In the BBC Radio 4 two-part adaptation of the novel, she is played by Lauren Mote and in the film, she is portrayed by American actress Mara Wilson.

Ghost soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that can appear to the living

In folklore, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that can appear to the living. In ghostlore, descriptions of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to realistic, lifelike forms. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism as a séance.

At school, Matilda makes friends with her teacher, Jennifer Honey, who is astonished by Matilda's intellectual abilities. She tries to move her into a higher class but is refused by the headmistress, the tyrannical Miss Agatha Trunchbull. Miss Honey also tries to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood about Matilda's intelligence, but they ignore her.

Miss Trunchbull fictional character in Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel Matilda

Miss Agatha Trunchbull, also known as Miss Trunchbull or simply The Trunchbull, the fictional headmistress of Crunchem Hall Primary School, is one of the main antagonists in Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel Matilda and in the 1996 film and 2011 musical based on the novel. She is said to look "more like an eccentric and rather bloodthirsty follower of the stag-hounds than the headmistress of a nice school for children".

Matilda quickly develops a particularly strong bond with Miss Honey and watches as Miss Trunchbull terrorizes her students with deliberately creative, over-the-top punishments to prevent parents from believing them. When Matilda's friend, Lavender, plays a practical joke on Miss Trunchbull by placing a newt in her jug of water, Matilda uses an unexpected power of telekinesis to tip the glass of water containing the newt onto Miss Trunchbull.

Newt Animal

A newt is a salamander in the subfamily Pleurodelinae. The terrestrial juvenile phase is called an eft. Unlike other members of the family Salamandridae, newts are semiaquatic, alternating between aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Not all aquatic salamanders are considered newts, however. More than 100 known species of newts are found in North America, Europe, North Africa and Asia. Newts metamorphose through three distinct developmental life stages: aquatic larva, terrestrial juvenile (eft), and adult. Adult newts have lizard-like bodies and return to the water every year to breed, otherwise living in humid, cover-rich land habitats.

After Matilda reveals her powers to Miss Honey, Miss Honey confides that she was raised by an abusive aunt after the suspicious death of her father. Her aunt is revealed to be Miss Trunchbull, who appears (among other misdeeds) to be withholding her niece's inheritance so that Miss Honey has to live in poverty in a derelict farm cottage. Preparing to avenge Miss Honey, Matilda develops her telekinetic gift through practice at home. Later, during a sadistic lesson that Miss Trunchbull is teaching, Matilda telekinetically raises a piece of chalk to the blackboard and writes on it, posing as the spirit of Miss Honey's late father and demanding that Miss Trunchbull hand over Miss Honey's house and wages and leave the region forever.

This is soon done, and a short while later the school's deputy head teacher, Mr. Trilby, visits Miss Trunchbull's house but finds it empty with no sign of her next destination. As Mr. Trilby becomes the new head of the school, he proves himself to be capable and good-natured, with the result that Matilda herself advances to the highest level of schooling. Rather to her relief, she is no longer capable of telekinesis; this is explained by Miss Honey as the result of using her mind on a more challenging curriculum. Matilda continues to visit Miss Honey at her house regularly, but one day finds her parents and her older brother Michael hastily packing to escape from the police, who are after her father for selling stolen cars. Matilda asks permission to live with Miss Honey, to which her parents rather uninterestedly agree. So both she and Miss Honey find their happy ending, and the school's atmosphere and curriculum have overwhelmingly improved under Mr. Trilby.

Dahl's inspiration

Mr. Wormwood was based on a real-life character from Roald Dahl's home village of Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire. [8] The library in Great Missenden was the inspiration for Mrs Phelps' library, where Matilda devours classic literature by the age of four and three months. [9]

Great Missenden village in Buckinghamshire

Great Missenden is a village with approximately 2,000 residents in the Misbourne Valley in the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire, England, situated between the towns of Amersham and Wendover, with direct rail connections to London Marylebone. It closely adjoins the villages of Little Kingshill, Little Missenden and the larger village Prestwood. The narrow and historic High Street is bypassed by the main A413 London to Aylesbury Road. It is located in the heart of The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The source of the Misbourne is to be found just north of the village, although the upper reach of the river runs only in winter and the perennial head is in Little Missenden. The village is now best known as home to the late Roald Dahl, the world-famous author.

Adaptations

Matilda the Musical has been performed at the Cambridge Theatre in the West End since November 2011. Pictured in July 2016. Cambridge Theatre, London, 28 July 2016 03.jpg
Matilda the Musical has been performed at the Cambridge Theatre in the West End since November 2011. Pictured in July 2016.

The novel was made into the film Matilda in 1996. It starred Mara Wilson as Matilda, and was directed by Danny DeVito, who also portrayed Mr. Wormwood and narrated the story. Although the film was not a box office success, it received critical acclaim at the time of its release, and on Rotten Tomatoes has a score of 90% based on reviews from 21 critics. [10]

In 1990, the Redgrave Theatre in Farnham produced a musical version, adapted by Rony Robinson with music by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, which toured the UK. It starred Annabelle Lanyon as Matilda and Jonathan Linsley as Miss Trunchbull, and had mixed reviews. [11] A second musical version of the novel, Matilda the Musical , written by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin and commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, premiered in November 2010. It opened at the Cambridge Theatre in the West End on 24 November 2011. [1] [12] It opened on Broadway on 11 April 2013 at the Shubert Theatre. The musical has since done a US tour and opened in July 2015 in Australia. The stage version has become hugely popular with audiences and praised by critics, and won multiple Olivier Awards in the UK and Tony Awards in the US. [13] One critic called it "the best British musical since Billy Elliot ". [2]

The actress Kate Winslet provides the English-language audiobook recording of Matilda. [3] In 2014, the American Library Association shortlisted her for an Odyssey Award for her audiobook performance. [14]

On 27 November 2018, Netflix was revealed to be adapting Matilda as an animated series, which will be part of an "animated event series" along with other Roald Dahl books such as The BFG , The Twits , and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory . [15]

Connections to other Roald Dahl books

One of Miss Trunchbull's punishments is to force an overweight child, Bruce Bogtrotter, to eat an enormous chocolate cake, which makes him so full that he cannot move. He had been found guilty of stealing cake from the kitchen. In Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes one of the recipes is based on that cake; whereas Bruce is a more sympathetic variation of Augustus Gloop (from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and similar gluttons, and made something of a hero by finishing the cake without suffering nausea. [16] The short story The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl, released in 1964, may have been a precursor to Matilda. A young girl has power within her finger to do things to other people when she gets emotional about a cause she feels strongly about. [17]

Matilda at 30

Celebrating 30 years of the book's publication in October 2018, original illustrator Quentin Blake imagined what Matilda might be doing as a grown up woman today. He drew images of her undertaking various possible roles, including an explorer, an astrophysicist, running the British Library, and others. [17] While stating it would be nice to know what Matilda would do as a woman, author Cressida Cowell states, "Why does a part of us not want to know what Matilda has become? Somewhere in our heart of hearts we never want Matilda to grow up – we want her to be like Peter Pan, eternally young." [17]

Related Research Articles

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References

  1. 1 2 Serena Allott (26 November 2010) Waltzing Matilda: Dahl's classic dances on to the stage The Daily Telegraph
  2. 1 2 "Once upon a time, there was a man who liked to make up stories ..." The Independent (Sunday, 12 December 2010)
  3. 1 2 "Roald Dahl's Matilda Audio CD - read by Kate Winslet". Roald Dahl.com. 20 May 2016.
  4. "Episode 1, Matilda, Classic Serial - BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  5. Bird, Elizabeth (7 July 2012). "Top 100 Chapter Book Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal (blog.schoollibraryjournal.com). Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  6. "100 Best Young-Adult Books". Time. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  7. Ferguson, Donna (15 September 2018). "Matilda's new adventures at 30: astrophysicist, explorer or bookworm". the Guardian. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  8. Sturrock, Donald, Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl, p. 287. Simon & Schuster, 2010.
  9. "Matilda statue stands up to President Donald Trump". BBC. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  10. "Matilda". Rotten Tomatoes . Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  11. "The 'Other' Matilda Musical | Safety Curtain". Safetycurtain.wordpress.com. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  12. "RSC Sets Dates for Dahl's Matilda Musical, 9 Nov". What'sOnStage.com. 30 September 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2010.
  13. "Play about maths genius equals Matilda's record". The Guardian. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  14. "Odyssey Award winners and honor audiobooks, 2008-present". ala.org. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  15. “Netflix's new Roald Dahl animated series 'reimagines' Matilda and Willy Wonka”. The Mirror. Retrieved 9 March 2019
  16. Long, Dorothy. Revolting recipes.
  17. 1 2 3 "Matilda, stay young: it's bittersweet to see Roald Dahl's hero turn 30". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 October 2018.