Checked content

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Related subjects: Children's Books

Background to the schools Wikipedia

This content from Wikipedia has been selected by SOS Children for suitability in schools around the world. A good way to help other children is by sponsoring a child

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (book cover).jpg
First edition cover of the US version
Author(s) Roald Dahl
Illustrator Joseph Schindelman (first US edition)
Faith Jaques (first UK edition)
Michael Foreman (1985 edition)
Quentin Blake (1995 edition)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Children's Fantasy novel
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. (original)
Penguin Books (current)
Publication date 1965
Media type Print ( Hardback, Paperback)
Pages 155
ISBN 0-394-91011-76
OCLC Number 9318922
Followed by Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 1964 children's book by British author Roald Dahl. The story features the adventures of young Charlie Bucket inside the chocolate factory of eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was first published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in 1964 and in the United Kingdom by George Allen & Unwin in 1967. The book was adapted into two major motion pictures: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in 1971, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2005. The book's sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, was written by Roald Dahl in 1972. Dahl had also planned to write a third book in the series but never finished it.

The story was originally inspired by Roald Dahl's experience of chocolate companies during his schooldays. Cadbury would often send test packages to the schoolchildren in exchange for their opinions on the new products. At that time (around the 1920s), Cadbury and Rowntree's were England's two largest chocolate makers and they each often tried to steal trade secrets by sending spies, posing as employees, into the other's factory. Because of this, both companies became highly protective of their chocolate making processes. It was a combination of this secrecy and the elaborate, often gigantic, machines in the factory that inspired Dahl to write the story.


The story revolves around a poor young boy named Charlie Bucket born to a penniless, starving family. His two sets of grandparents reside in their children's dilapidated, tiny house and lead a bedridden existence, and Charlie is fascinated by the universally-celebrated candy factory located in his hometown owned by famous chocolatier Willy Wonka. His Grandpa Joe often narrates stories to him about the chocolate factory and about its mysterious proprietor, and the mysteries relating to the factory itself; how it had gone defunct for years until it mysteriously re-opened after Wonka's secret candy recipes had been discovered (albeit no employees are ever seen leaving the factory).

Soon after, an article in the newspaper reveals that Willy Wonka has hidden a Golden Ticket in five chocolate bars being distributed to anonymous locations worldwide, and that the discovery of a Golden Ticket would grant the owner with passage into Willy Wonka's factory and a lifetime supply of confectionary. Charlie longs for chocolate to satisfy his hunger and to find a Golden Ticket himself, but his chances are slim (his father has recently lost his job, leaving the family all but destitute) and word on the discovery of the tickets keeps appearing in various news articles read by the Bucket family, each one discovered by far going to self-centered, bratty children: an obese, gluttonous boy named Augustus Gloop, a spoiled brat named Veruca Salt, a record-breaking gum chewer named Violet Beauregarde, and Mike Teavee, an aspiring gangster who is unhealthily obsessed with television. Eventually, Charlie finds a ticket of his own.

The children, once at the factory, are taken to the Chocolate Room, where they are introduced to Oompa Loompas, from Loompaland, who have been helping Wonka operate the factory. Whilst there, Augustus falls into the chocolate and is sucked up by a pipe and eliminated from the tour. They are soon taken to the Inventing Room, where Violet chews a piece of experimental gum, and blows up into a blueberry, she is the second child rejected from the tour. After an exhausting jog down a series of corridors, Wonka allows them to rest outside of the Nut Room, but refuses them entry. Veruca, seeing squirrels inside, and demands one from Wonka, but when she is refused, she invades the Nut Room, where the squirrels attack her and throw her down the garbage chute, and soon her parents afterwards, being judged as bad nuts. They go on the Great Glass Elevator to the Television Room, where Mike accidentally shrinks himself to a few inches tall using a teleporter Wonka invented.

Charlie, being the last child left, wins the prize. Together they go to Charlie's house in the glass elevator and take the whole family back to the chocolate factory to live out the rest of their lives.


Favourable views

A fan of the book since childhood, film director Tim Burton states, "I responded to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because it respected the fact that children can be adults." In a 2006 list for the Royal Society of Literature, author J. K. Rowling named Charlie and the Chocolate Factory among her top ten books every child should read.

A 2004 study found that it was a common read-aloud book for fourth-graders in schools in San Diego County, California. A 2012 survey by the University of Worcester determined that it was one of the most common books that UK adults had read as children, after Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; and The Wind in The Willows.

Accolades for the book include:

  • New England Round Table of Children's Librarians Award (USA, 1972)
  • Surrey School Award (UK, 1973)
  • Millennium Children's Book Award (UK, 2000)
  • Blue Peter Book Award (UK, 2000)
  • National Education Association "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children" based on a poll (USA, 2007)
  • School Library Journal "Top 100 Chapter Books" of all time based on a poll (USA, 2012)

Unfavourable views

Although the book has always been popular and considered a children's classic by many literary critics, a number of prominent individuals have spoken critically of the novel over the years. Children's novelist and literary historian, John Rowe Townsend, has described the book as "fantasy of an almost literally nauseating kind" and accused it of "astonishing insensitivity" regarding the original portrayal of the Oompa-Loompas as black pygmies, although Dahl did revise this later. Another novelist, Eleanor Cameron, compared the book to the candy that forms its subject matter, commenting that it is "delectable and soothing while we are undergoing the brief sensory pleasure it affords but leaves us poorly nourished with our taste dulled for better fare". Ursula K. Le Guin voiced her support for this assessment in a letter to Cameron. Defenders of the book have pointed out it was unusual for its time in being quite dark for a children's book, with the " antagonists" not being adults or monsters (as is the case for most of Dahl's books) but the naughty children, who receive sadistic punishment in the end.


The book was first made into a feature film as a musical titled Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, directed by Mel Stuart, produced by David L. Wolper and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, character actor Jack Albertson as Grandpa Joe, and Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket. Released worldwide on 30 June 1971 and distributed by Paramount Pictures (Warner Bros. is the current owner), the film had an estimated budget of $2.9 million. The film grossed only $4 million and, while it passed its budget, was still considered a box-office disappointment. However, as was noted in an article entitled; "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: From Inauspicious Debut to Timeless Classic", exponential home video and DVD sales, as well as repeated television airings, the film has since developed into a cult classic. Concurrently with the 1971 film, a line of candies was introduced by the Quaker Oats Company that uses the book's characters and imagery for its marketing.

In 1985, the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory video game was released for the ZX Spectrum by developers Soft Option Ltd and publisher Hill MacGibbon.

Another film version, titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and directed by Tim Burton, was released on 15 July 2005; this version starred Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket, Deep Roy as the Oompa-Loompas, and Geoffrey Holder as the Narrator. The Brad Grey production was a hit, grossing about $470 million worldwide with an estimated budget of $150 million. It was distributed by Warner Bros. The 1971 and 2005 films are consistent with the written work to varying degrees. The Burton film, in particular, greatly expanded Willy Wonka's personal back-story borrowing many themes and elements from the sequel. Both films, likewise, heavily expanded the personalities of the four "bad" children and their parents from the limited descriptions in the book. A video game based on Burton's adaptation was released on 11 July 2005.

The BBC produced an adaptation for Radio 4 in the early 1980s and the book has frequently been adapted for the stage, most often as plays or musicals for children. These are often titled Willy Wonka or Willy Wonka Jr. They almost always feature musical numbers by all the main characters (Wonka, Charlie, Grandpa Joe, Violet, etc.). Many of the songs are revised versions from the 1971 film. A musical based on the novel called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical will premiere at the West End's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane from May 2013 and officially open on 25 June. The show will be directed by Sam Mendes and star Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka.

On 1 April 2006, the British theme park, Alton Towers, opened a family attraction themed around the story. The ride features a boat section, where guests travel around the chocolate factory in bright pink boats on a chocolate river. In the final stage of the ride, guests enter one of two glass elevators, where they join Willy Wonka as they travel around the factory, eventually shooting up and out through the glass roof.


  • ISBN 0-394-81011-2 (hardcover, 1973, revised Oompa Loompa edition)
  • ISBN 0-87129-220-3 ( paperback, 1976)
  • ISBN 0-553-15097-9 ( paperback, 1980, illustrated by Joseph Schindelman)
  • ISBN 0-14-031824-0 (paperback, 1985, illustrated by Michael Foreman)
  • ISBN 1-85089-902-9 ( hardcover, 1987)
  • ISBN 0-606-04032-3 ( prebound, 1988)
  • ISBN 0-89966-904-2 ( library binding, 1992, reprint)
  • ISBN 0-14-130115-5 (paperback, 1998)
  • ISBN 0-375-81526-0 (hardcover, 2001)
  • ISBN 0-375-91526-5 (library binding, 2003)
  • ISBN 0-14-240108-0 (paperback, 2004)
  • ISBN 0-8488-2241-2 (hardcover)
  • ISBN 0-14-131130-4 (2001, illustrated by Quentin Blake)
Retrieved from ""