Matilda is a novel written by the famed children’s author Roald Dahl. It was first published in 1988 by Jonathan Cape in London. The book was illustrated by Dahl’s frequent collaborator Quentin Blake. It very well may be Dahl’s most well known book. It definitely has the most adaptations of any of his books. It has been made into an audiobook, a feature film, a two part radio adaptation, and two different musicals.
Matilda was Dahl’s last long form story for children. The original draft of Matilda was very different than the current story. Originally, Matilda was actually evil. She used her powers for nefarious mischief until towards the end of the story. Eventually, she used her powers to help a teacher with their financial problems.
Now, Matilda is a typical Dahl protagonist. She is small and has to deal with terrible adults. Matilda is a very sweet girl, who is marvelously intelligent. Her intelligence gives her powers of telekinesis. She uses these to play tricks on her cruel parents and her fearsome school headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. Matilda features a young boy named Bruce Bogtrotter. Bruce eats an entire cake in one sitting, as a punishment. Bruce represents Dahl’s love of including obese characters in his stories. Other examples of obese characters include Augustus Gloop from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Farmer Boggis from Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Matilda was made into a feature film in 1996, and starred Mara Wilson as the titular character. It is dedicated to Wilson’s mother, who died before the film was released. It also featured Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman. The movie is fairly truthful to its source material. It received good critical reviews. In 1990, a musical version premiered. It received mixed reviews and quickly closed. In 2010, a new musical premiered on the West End. It had no connection with the previous musical. It was written by Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly. This musical received much better reviews and quickly transferred to Broadway, where it is still running. Matilda also won the 1988 Children’s Book Award, which is a great honor.