Matilda (novel)

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First UK edition
Author Roald Dahl
Illustrator Quentin Blake
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Published 1 October 1988

Matilda is a children's novel by British author Roald Dahl. It was published in 1988 by Jonathan Cape in London, with 232 pages and illustrations by the notable illustrator Quentin Blake. The story is about Matilda Wormwood, an extraordinary child. It was adapted into an audio reading by Joely Richardson, a film in 1996, a two-part adaptation for BBC Radio 4 (later re-broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra) starring Nicola McAuliffe as Matilda and narrated by Lenny Henry. In 2010 it was adapted into a musical.[1][2]


Matilda is a young girl who is gifted with magical powers and precocity but her wealthy, dimwitted parents are oblivious to her prodigious skills and view her as a foolish and idiotic girl.


The novel was adapted to film in 1996, directed by Danny DeVito and starred Mara Wilson as Matilda. Although the film was not a box office success, Matilda received critical acclaim at the time of its release, and holds a "fresh" rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. DeVito portrayed Mr. Wormwood as well as the narrator.

In 1990, the Redgrave Theatre, 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.[3] 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][4] It later opened on Broadway on 11 April 2013 at the Shubert Theatre. The stage version has become hugely popular with audiences and praised by critics, with one critic calling it "the best British musical since Billy Elliot".[2]

Connections to preceding Roald Dahl books[edit]

One of Miss Trunchbull's means of punishments is to forcibly make an overweight boy named Bruce Bogtrotter eat an enormous cake to try to make him sick after finding him guilty of stealing some from the kitchen (in many of Dahl's novels there is a rude character that is overweight, Augustus Gloop for example, though Bruce Bogtrotter is portrayed as more sympathetic and even becomes somewhat of a hero to the kids by actually managing to finish the cake). In Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes one of the recipes is based on that cake.[5]


  1. ^ a b Serena Alllot (26 November 2010) Waltzing Matilda: Dahl's classic dances on to the stage The Daily Telegraph
  2. ^ a b Once upon a time, there was a man who liked to make up stories ... The Independent (Sunday, 12 December 2010)
  3. ^ "The ‘Other’ Matilda Musical | Safety Curtain". Retrieved 2013-09-20. 
  4. ^ "RSC Sets Dates for Dahl’s Matilda Musical, 9 Nov". What' 30 September 2009. Retrieved 2010-04-07. 
  5. ^ Long, Dorothy. Revolting recipes.