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For the 1989 animated film based on the book, see The BFG (1989 film). For the upcoming Spielberg fantasy film, see The BFG (2016 film).
For other uses, see BFG (disambiguation).
The BFG (Dahl novel - cover art).jpg
First edition cover
Author Roald Dahl
Illustrator Quentin Blake
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Children's
Publisher Jonathan Cape (original)
Penguin Books (current)
Publication date
Media type Paperback
Pages 240
ISBN 0-224-02040-4

The BFG (short for "Big Friendly Giant") is a children's book written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake, first published in 1982. The book was an expansion of a story told in Danny, the Champion of the World, an earlier Dahl book. Dahl dedicated The BFG to his daughter Olivia, who died of measles encephalitis at age seven.[1]

An animated film based on the book was released in 1989 with David Jason providing the voice of the BFG and Amanda Root as the voice of Sophie. It has also been adapted as a theatre performance.[2] A live action version based on the book directed by Steven Spielberg is in production with a release date in 2016.


  • Sophie: The protagonist of the story, who becomes an international heroine.
  • The BFG: A 24-foot-tall individual who has superhuman hearing abilities and immense speed. His primary occupation is the collection and distribution of good dreams to children. He also appears in another novel, Danny, the Champion of the World, in which he is introduced as a folkloric character. His name is an initialism of 'Big Friendly Giant'.
  • The Queen of England: based on Elizabeth II.
  • Mary: The Queen's Maid
  • Mr. Tibbs: The Palace butler
  • Mrs. Clonkers: The unseen director of the orphanage in which Sophie lives at the start of the novel; described as cruel to her charges.
  • Head of the Army: a bombastic officer answering to the Queen.
  • Head of the Air Force: a second, equally bombastic officer.
  • King of Sweden: Sometimes called the Queen of Sweden in play versions
  • Sultan of Baghdad
  • Monsieur Papillon: The Queen's chief cook.
  • Nine anthropophagus giants, each approx. 50 ft. tall and proportionately broad and powerful:
    • The Manhugger
    • The Meatdripper
    • The Childchewer
    • The Butcher Boy
    • The Bloodbottler
    • The Maidmasher
    • The Fleshlumpeater
    • The Bonecruncher
    • The Gizzardgulper


The story follows a little girl named Sophie. a young orphan living with many other orphan girls, in the orphanage run by the cantankerous Mrs. Clonkers. One night, Sophie sees a cloaked giant blowing something via a trumpet-like into a bedroom window down the street; whereupon the giant carries her to his homeland of Giant Country. There, he identifies himself as the Big Friendly Giant ('BFG'), who nightly blows bottled dreams into the bedrooms of children, and the other, larger giants as predators upon humans, mostly children. Because the BFG refuses to eat people or steal food from humans, he subsists on a foul-tasting vegetable known as a snozzcumber.

Sophie and the BFG quickly become friends; but Sophie is soon put in danger by the sudden arrival of the Bloodbottler Giant, who suspects the BFG of harboring Sophie. Sophie hides in the snozzcumber, unknown to the BFG, and the BFG offers the snozzcumber to the Bloodbottler, hoping that its foul taste will repel him from the area; whereupon the Bloodbottler spits out the snozzcumber and Sophie, and leaves in disgust. When Sophie announces she is thirsty, the BFG treats her to a fizzy drink called frobscottle, which causes noisy flatulence: this is known as Whizzpopping. The next morning, the BFG takes Sophie to Dream Country to catch more dreams, but is tormented by the other giants along the way; notably by their leader, the Fleshlumpeater, the largest and most fearsome.

In Dream Country, the BFG demonstrates his dream-catching skills to Sophie; but the BFG mistakenly captures a nightmare, and uses it to start a fight among the other giants. Sophie later persuades him to approach the Queen of England toward imprisoning the other giants. To this end, the BFG creates a nightmare, introducing knowledge of the man-eating giants to the Queen, and leaves Sophie in the Queen's bedroom to confirm it. Because the dream included the knowledge of Sophie's presence, the Queen believes her and speaks with the BFG.

After considerable effort by the palace staff to create a table, chair, and cutlery of appropriate size, the BFG is given a lavish breakfast, and the Queen telephones the King of Sweden and the Sultan of Baghdad to confirm the BFG's story – the giants having visited those locations on the previous two nights – then summons the Head of the British Army and the Marshal of the Royal Air Force. The said officers, though initially belligerent and skeptical, eventually agree to cooperate. Eventually, a fleet of helicopters follows the BFG to the giants' homeland, where the giants are tied up, suspended under the helicopters, and carried to England, where they are imprisoned in a pit. The only one not easily caught is the Fleshlumpeater; but he is soon tricked into allowing his own capture.

Afterwards, a huge castle is built as the BFG's new house, with a little cottage next door for Sophie. While they are living happily in England, the BFG writes a book of their adventures, which is then identified as the novel itself, a literary device also apparent in James and the Giant Peach and The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

Awards and recognition[edit]

The BFG has won numerous awards including the 1985 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis as the year's best children's book, in its German translation Sophiechen und der Riese[3] and the 1991 Read Alone and Read Aloud BILBY Awards.[4]

In 2003 it was ranked number 56 in The Big Read, a two-stage survey of the British public by the BBC to determine the "Nation's Best-loved Novel".[5]

The U.S. National Education Association listed The BFG among the "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children" based on a 2007 online poll.[6]

In 2012 it was ranked number 88 among all-time children's novels in a survey published by School Library Journal, a monthly with primarily U.S. audience. It was the fourth of four books by Dahl among the Top 100, more than any other writer.[7]



Selected translations[edit]


Stage play[edit]

The play was adapted for the stage by David Wood and premiered at the Wimbledon Theatre in 1991.[8]


1989 film[edit]

Main article: The BFG (1989 film)

On Christmas Day in 1989, ITV aired an animated film based on the book, with David Jason providing the voice of the BFG and Amanda Root as the voice of Sophie. The film was dedicated to animator George Jackson who worked on numerous Cosgrove Hall Productions.

2016 film[edit]

Main article: The BFG (2016 film)

Producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy began development for a big budget adaptation of The BFG in 1991, and set the project up with Paramount Pictures.[9] Husband and wife screenwriters Robin Swicord and Nicholas Kazan wrote a screenplay adaptation in 1998, with Robin Williams in mind for the title role.[10] By 2001, the script had been rewritten by Gwyn Lurie, which was greeted with positive feedback from the Dahl estate.[11]

In September 2011 it was announced that DreamWorks Pictures had picked up the film rights with Melissa Mathison adapting a new script.[12] In April 2014, Steven Spielberg was announced to direct the film, shooting in 2015 with plans for a 2016 release.[13] Spielberg stated, "The BFG has enchanted families and their children for more than three decades. We are honoured that the Roald Dahl estate has entrusted us with this classic story."[14] Mark Rylance will star in the title role. The film will be co-produced by Walt Disney Pictures, DreamWorks, Amblin Entertainment, Walden Media, and Reliance Entertainment, and will be released on July 1, 2016.[15]


  1. ^ Singh, Anita (7 August 2010) "Roald Dahl's secret notebook reveals heartbreak over daughter's death". The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  2. ^ "BFG at the theatre- Preview". 24 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  3. ^ "Sophiechen und der Riese" (in German). Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis. 1985. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Previous Winners of the BILBY Awards: 1990 – 96" (PDF). The Children's Book Council of Australia Queensland Branch. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  5. ^ "BBC – The Big Read". BBC. April 2003. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  6. ^ National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  7. ^ Bird, Elizabeth (7 July 2012). "Top 100 Chapter Book Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal ( Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Samuel French. Accessed October 26, 2015
  9. ^ Glenn Whipp (February 17, 2009). "Frank Marshall focuses on practical". Variety. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  10. ^ Staff (October 22, 1998). "'Husband' vows renewed; doc on saint set". Variety. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  11. ^ Dana Harris (February 27, 2002). "Lurie back to book for 'Chocolate' pic". Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  12. ^ Weinstein, Joshua L. (24 September 2011). "DreamWorks Is Still Buying – Picks Up Roald Dahl's 'BFG' (Exclusive)". Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  13. ^ Bullock, Paul (26 April 2014). "Steven Spielberg to direct The BFG". Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  14. ^ "Steven Spielberg to direct BFG film from Roald Dahl book". BBC News. Retrieved 29 April 2014
  15. ^ McNary, Dave (16 June 2014). "Tom Hanks-Steven Spielberg Cold War Thriller Set for Oct. 16, 2015". Variety. Retrieved 6 June 2014.