The Witches

The Witches Study Guide

The Witches was written in 1983 by famed children’s author Roald Dahl. At this point, Dahl had written many of his most well known works, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. The book was dedicated to Roald Dahl’s wife Felicity, or Liccy. It was illustrated by Quentin Blake, who illustrated the majority of Dahl’s vast body of work.

It was first published by Jonathan Cape. It has been made into an audiobook, a stage play, a radio play, a movie, and an opera. The movie starred Anjelica Huston and Rowan Atkinson.

Dahl was partly inspired to write The Witches by his experiences in Norway and the United Kingdom. As a child, he spent nearly all of his summers with family in Norway. This was his favorite part of the year. Many of the stories in his memoir, Boy, were based on experiences from these summers. It is also said that the grandmother character in The Witches, who raises the main character, was inspired by Dahl’s own mother.

Though a perennially popular book, The Witches has frequently been banned. Some organizations have declared it sexist. This stems from the fact that all of the villains in the book are women, and that, according to Dahl, witches are, by definition, women.

This made The Witches one of the most controversial major books of the 1990s. The Witches still received heavy praise, including three major awards: The New York Times Outstanding Books Award, The Federation of Children's Book Groups Award and The Whitebread Award.

A film adaptation was created in 1990. It differed from the book in two major ways. First, it gave the main characters, who remained nameless in the book, the names Luke and Helga. Second, it changed the ending and returned the main character, who in the book ends up as a mouse, to his previous human state. Dahl hated the film with a passion, and despised the changes that they had made.

In 2008, the BBC aired a radio version. It starred Ryan Watson as Boy, and Margaret Tyzack as the Grandmother.