The woman who reportedly led the mission to bowdlerize the books of famed author Roald Dahl in order not to offend readers has described herself as a “non-binary, asexual, polyamorous relationship anarchist who is on the autism spectrum.”
The massive woke re-editing of Dahl’s books was largely perpetrated by an English group called Inclusive Minds. Jo Ross-Barrett, a former project manager at Inclusive Minds who headed the project, wrote on LinkedIn in 2022 that she was working on a secretive project involving “delivering a large-scale, comprehensive review of inclusion issues and potential solutions for copyright holders and publishers of one of the most famous classic children’s book collections in the world (specifics under NDA until publication),” National Review reported.
A profile of Barrett on the Inclusive Minds sight described her as “they/them” and a “writer and editor with a passion for championing inclusive content and policies. … Jo is an autistic, non-binary, asexual, polyamorous relationship anarchist. They work with Inclusive Minds to help authors and publishers make their books more authentically representative of marginalized groups, and have provided workshops and talks at A Place at the Table 2020 and the UK Asexuality Conference 2019,” The Daily Mail noted.
Inclusive Minds used “sensitivity readers” and “inclusion ambassadors” to edit children’s stories; the “ambassadors” could be as young as 8 years old. Some “ambassadors” included a trans-identifying poet and a queer, trans-identifying, and intersex person.
The Telegraph illuminated some of the changes made to Dahl’s books, and their report caused author Salman Rushdie, himself the subject of an Iranian death warrant for his work, to tweet, “Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed.”
Puffin, the publisher of the Dahl books, said they will release two versions of each of his books. Francesca Dow, managing director of Penguin Random House Children’s, released a statement saying: “We’ve listened to the debate over the past week which has reaffirmed the extraordinary power of Roald Dahl’s books and the very real questions around how stories from another era can be kept relevant for each new generation. … We also recognize the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print. By making both Puffin and Penguin versions available, we are offering readers the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvelous stories.”
Some of the changes implemented by the publisher include the following:
In “The Twits”: “Have you ever seen a woman with an uglier face than that” became “Have you ever seen anyone with an uglier face than that.” “Oh do shut up, you old hag” became “Oh do shut up, you old crow.”
In “The Witches,” the following sentences were removed:
- I do not wish to speak badly about women. Most women are lovely.
- “How horrid!” “Disgusting,” my grandmother said.
- When an actress wears a wig, or if you or I were to wear a wig, we would be putting it on over our own hair, but a witch has to put it straight on to her naked scalp.
In “Matilda,” “mothers and fathers” became “parents.” “She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling,” became “She went to nineteenth century estates with Jane Austen. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and California with John Steinbeck.”
In “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” this sentence was entirely removed: “Mike Teavee himself had no less than eighteen toy pistols of various sizes hanging from belts around his body, and every now and again he would leap up into the air and fire off half a dozen rounds from one or another of these weapons.”
This sentence was also removed: “The Oompa-Loompas spent every moment of their days climbing through the treetops.”
In “The BFG,” the word “black” was consistently replaced by the word “dark” in sentences such as “It was something black,” “It was something tall and black,” and “Something very tall and very black and very thin.”