Roald Dahl’s family has issued an apology on the “prejudiced” anti-Semitic remarks which the late children’s author made during his lifetime, and which his family describe as “incomprehensible” and standing in “marked contrast” to the man they knew.
“The Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company deeply apologise for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by some of Roald Dahl’s statements,” the undated apology read.
Dahl, who died in 1990 having authored numerous classic children’s books including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and Fantastic Mr Fox, made no secret of his anti-Semitism as he derogatorily commented on Jewish people during interviews and in his writing. The British author’s anti-Semitic comments have sparked much controversy, particularly those made in two interviews in 1983 and 1990.
In a 1983 interview with Britain’s The New Statesman, Dahl said that “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews,” adding that “even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.”
According to a spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism, the fact that Roald Dahl’s family “waited 30 years to make an apology” is “disappointing.”
“It is a shame that the estate has seen fit merely to apologize for Dahl’s anti-Semitism rather than to use its substantial means to do anything about it,” the spokesperson added.
“The apology should have come much sooner and been published less obscurely, but the fact that it has come at all – after so long – is an encouraging sign that Dahl’s racism has been acknowledged even by those who profit from his creative works.”
In the brief online apology, the Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company express their hope in that “just as he did at his best, at his absolute worst, Roald Dahl can help remind us of the lasting impact of words.”
Dahl was born in Wales in 1916 to Norwegian immigrants and served as a pilot in World War II. Over his decades-long writing career, Dahl composed nineteen children’s books, many of which have been famously adapted into film.