The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More

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The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More
First edition cover
Author Roald Dahl
Cover artist Quentin Blake
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Adventure
Publisher Jonathan Cape
Publication date
Media type Print ()
Pages 225
ISBN 0-14-130470-7
OCLC 45610028
[Fic] 21
LC Class PZ7.D1515 Wo 2000
Preceded by Danny, the Champion of the World
Followed by The Enormous Crocodile

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More is a collection of seven short stories written by Roald Dahl. They are generally regarded as being aimed at a slightly older audience than many of his other children's books.

The stories were written at varying times throughout his life. Two of the stories are autobiographical in nature; one describes how he first became a writer while the other describes some of Dahl's experiences as a fighter pilot in World War II. Another piece in the collection is a non-fiction account of a British farmer finding a legendary haul of ancient Roman treasure. The book was first published in 1977 by Jonathan Cape.


The Boy Who Talked with Animals[edit]

This is a first-person fiction piece of medium-length writing. The narrator, on advice from friends, decides to vacation in Jamaica for a time. One night, a large commotion breaks out on the beach-a sea turtle, ancient and huge, is caught by a group of fisherfolk. The beach patrons debate about what to do with the tortoise; rich people want to buy it, while the manager of a nearby hotel wants to use the meat to make turtle soup. The people's plans are foiled when a little boy and his parents appear; the child screams at the people, calling them "horrible and cruel." His parents reveal that the boy loves animals deeply, and even talks to them. His father pays off the fisherfolk and hotel manager, and the turtle is set free.

The next day, the boy is missing. Everyone is shocked when the fisherfolk return and reveal that they have found the child-riding on the back of the sea turtle, venturing into the unknown.

The Hitch-hiker[edit]

This is another fictional first person narrative. The narrator in this case has a brand new BMW 3.3 Li, and is enjoying a trip down the highway when he spots a hitchhiker. He lets the man into his car; the passenger is described as being curiously rat-like, with long, white fingers. They engage in conversation, revealing the man's Cockney accent and attitudes.

As they talk, the narrator is urged by the hitchhiker to test the car's engine power by going ever faster. This results in a police motorbike pulling them over for speeding. The police officer who writes the ticket acts particularly cruel, threatening the narrator with a long prison sentence and a huge fine; he even spits on the car before leaving.

The narrator is despondent until his new friend challenges the narrator to guess his true profession. As he does, the hitchhiker suddenly reveals various items from the narrator's person, from a wallet to a watch to the narrator's shoelace. The narrator accuses the hitchhiker of being a pickpocket. The hitchhiker disagrees, claiming that he is a "fingersmith" - just as a goldsmith has mastered gold, he has mastered the use of his fingers. He claims that he is never caught 'due to his amazin finger'. He then reveals that he has stolen both the police officer's notebooks, which contain the tickets and details against them.

The Mildenhall Treasure[edit]

This is a non-fiction account of a laborer named Gordon Butcher who uncovered a large quantity of Roman treasure, The Mildenhall Treasure, in a field that he was ploughing for a farmer when he found pure silver and another man tried to deceive him into thinking it was worth nothing

The Swan[edit]

The Swan is a short story about Ernie and his friend Raymond, who like to bully Peter Watson. Ernie gets a rifle for his fifteenth birthday. His dad tells him to go kill some rabbits for supper. Ernie agrees, goes outside, and whistles for his friend Raymond to come outside. Raymond comes and they both shoot birds while heading to the rabbit field. When they get to the railway line they see Peter Watson.

As a joke, Ernie and Raymond go over to Peter and point the gun at him and say, “Hands up!” Then, Raymond decides to tie Peter up on the railway tracks. Miraculously, Peter survives when the train comes over him by sinking into the ballast just barely enough so the train won’t hit him.

Next, the two boys decide to throw Peter in the lake with his hands still tied. When they get to the lake, Ernie spots a duck on the lake and decides to shoot it instead. After he kills it, he orders Peter to go and fetch it. Peter does this unwillingly because he didn’t like to see Ernie shoot the beautiful duck, but he also doesn’t want to aggravate him.

Next, Ernie sees a beautiful swan that is sitting on her nest and decides to shoot her also. Peter begs and pleads with him not to shoot the swan, but Ernie shoots the swan anyway. He tells Peter to go retrieve the swan. Peter hesitates for little bit and then goes with tears streaming down his face. He wishes that the swan could come back to life. This gives Ernie another idea.

Ernie says he can bring the swan back to life, and he gets to work. He cuts off both of the swan’s wings, then ties the wings to Peter’s arms and says, “Look, I have brought the swan back to life!” Then, Ernie wants to see Peter or “Mister Swan” climb the tree and jump off and fly. Peter thinks that if he climbs the tree then he can get further away from Ernie and Raymond.

He climbs the tree all the way to the top and just stands on a branch. Ernie yells at him to jump off the branch, but Peter just stands there. Ernie gives him ten seconds to jump off the tree or he will shoot him. Ten seconds go by and Ernie’s second shot hits Peter in the thigh. Peter falls off the branch, but grabs onto another one. Then, Peter sees a bright light and jumps off the branch. Three people saw a great white swan flying over the village that day. Mrs. Watson sees a white thing flop into her garden and she recognizes it as her son, Peter. She sprints out to him, calls a doctor and an ambulance, and cuts the two great wings of the swan off his arm.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar[edit]

Henry, an independently wealthy man who enjoys gambling, finds and reads a doctor's report on a strange patient the doctor met while stationed at a hospital in India. This patient, who called himself 'The Man Who Sees Without Using His Eyes', had the ability to see even after the doctors had medically sealed the man's eyes shut and bandaged his head. The man was part of a circus act and used his ability to make money. When interviewed in more detail by the curious doctors he gave an account which they wrote up. The man claimed he had been interested in magic all his life, and managed to study with Yogi Fakeirs deep in India, learning some of their meditation methods. The one he finds best is to gaze into a lit candle and watch the flame; the three parts - yellow, red and blue, to close your eyes and keep the image in your mind, and try to envisage a face you know well. It is hard to do this for more than a few seconds, before the mind wanders. However the man persisted and was able to improve the focus of his mind. He develops the ability to see through thin objects such a paper or playing cards, and can see around solid objects such as a wooded door if he is allowed to have a finger or hand around it. He even manages to walk across hot coals unhurt. He tells the English doctors that he was warned not to abuse his powers, and that should he use his ability for selfish ends or financial gain he would pay the price. The man is unconcerned about this, and is happy to use his ability as part of the circus show. The doctors discuss this, and by morning decide the man could be of great benefit - he could teach blind people to see without their eyes. In excitement they return to the circus, only to find the show cancelled. The Man Who Sees Without Using His Eyes had died in the night.

Henry realises that the book contains the detailed description of the meditation method used to gain this ability. He steals the book and then decides to try to master the art of meditation using the instructions included in the report with the aim of mastering the ability to see through cards to aid him at gambling. After practice he discovers that he is a "one-in-a-million" type of person whose natural psychic powers are much more easily honed. After only three years, Henry masters the ability to see through playing cards, and can even predict the future to a mild extent. Henry unnaturally uses these abilities to help him in a casino; however, when he arrives, he discovers that months of disciplined training have altered his personality, making him more perceptive to the greed of those around him. He uses his powers to predict which number will win on a roulette wheel, then later makes a great deal of money at the blackjack tables. While there, he also realizes that he must be careful; though he could easily "break the casino", the media attention caused by such an event would get him in trouble.

Henry walks home with enough money to buy "a small house or a large automobile" - surprisingly, though, he is uninterested in the cash. He realizes that the thrill of winning or losing has been eradicated: he is guaranteed to always beat the house. The narrator questions what should happen now, pointing out that, like the Indian man, Henry has also abused his power and used it for selfish ends. Logically, he should now die. He would gaze at his reflection in the mirror, and his ability would allow him to see through his skin and see the veins of his body, including a lump in one tube by his heart. As he watched the lump move slightly toward his heart, Henry realises that it is a blood clot and it will travel into and stop his heart...

But the narrator claims that this is not a work of fiction, and that Henry did not die, but instead wakes up in the morning safe and well.

In the morning, Henry tries to decide what to do with the money. He then abruptly decides to literally throw it out of his window. Soon, a near-riot breaks out as the people of London rush to collect the twenty pound notes falling from Henry's apartment. A police officer arrives at the scene and scolds Henry before suggesting that he find a more legal form of charity-for instance, he could donate money to orphanages.

Henry is struck between the eyes at this idea, and vows to establish the most well-equipped and supportive orphanages on the planet. He enlists the help of his accountant who works as his personal banker. Originally, Henry's plan works well-until he reaches Las Vegas. There, he unknowingly collects a huge sum from three casinos owned by the same Mafioso. The Mafia do not take kindly to this and send some thugs to Henry's hotel with a view to closing his account. A bellhop at the hotel warns Henry of the danger; in return for a reward the bellhop has planned that Henry can take his uniform, tie him up (so he can say Henry stole his clothes at gun point), and Henry escapes unharmed simply by walking though the lobby with his suitcase as the thugs ignore the uniform. After this narrow escape, Henry flies to Hollywood, where he enlists the aid of a famous makeup artist to create various disguises and false identities to protect himself. This works successfully, and with the aid of his accountant and the artist he successfully travels the world under a number of names and identities. He even returns to Vegas and takes more money from the same mob owned casinos without them realizing.

At the end of the story, the author reveals that he was selected, seemingly at random, by Henry's accountant to write Henry's story, as the man has died. The narrator is shocked to hear all of the events, and also comments that Henry's wish came true-the Henry Sugar Orphanages, established all across the globe, are indeed the best in the world.

The story is considered to be mildly satiric of Dahl's critics, who would sometimes complain of his being the 'Master of Nastiness'. Here, he gives them a happy ending, and even gives a sweet and rather anodyne name to the protagonist.

Lucky Break[edit]

This is a non-fictional account, similar to Roald Dahl's Boy and Going Solo albeit in a more concise form. It discusses the events in his life that led him to become a writer, including a meeting with a famous writer, who helped to launch his career. The story is about Dahl's school and all the teachers, up until after the publication of his first story.

A Piece of Cake[edit]

This is an autobiographical account of Dahl's time as a fighter pilot in World War II, particularly the details of how Dahl was injured and eventually forced to leave the Mediterranean arena. The original version of the story was written for C. S. Forester so that he could get the gist of Dahl's story and rewrite it in his own words. However, Forester was so impressed by the story (Dahl at the time did not believe himself to be anything approaching an accomplished writer) that he sent it straight off to his agent who had it published (as "Shot Down Over Libya") in the Saturday Evening Post, thereby kick-starting Dahl's writing career.


See also[edit]