The Roald Dahl Museum's archivist Rachel White on unpublished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chapter, The Vanilla Fudge Mountain
In the archive stored at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, Bucks, UK the earliest surviving draft of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of the many highlights. There are several big changes from the published version you will probably know, including lots and lots of extra naughty children – at one point there were ten, and at other times even more - and various chapters from these early drafts that didn’t make it into the final book.
As we celebrate 50 years of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2014, we asked the Roald Dahl Museum’s archivist Rachel White to tell us a bit more about some of these chapters, including ‘The Vanilla Fudge Room,’ which you can read in its entirety as it is published for the first time in The Guardian.
'In 'The Vanilla Fudge Room', Charlie, his parents and the other children are led into a room which contains... “An actual mountain, a colossal jagged mountain as high as a five-storey building, and the whole thing was made of pale-brown, creamy, vanilla fudge.”
Roald Dahl then describes the factory workers – not Oompa-Loompas, as at this point he hadn’t yet created the tiny people from Loompaland, but ordinary people – working on the mountain with picks and axes, roped together for safety, chipping chunks of fudge from the mountain ready to be used in recipes. He conjures up the massive sense of scale in the room and the industrial nature of Willy Wonka’s factory, with cranes, pulleys and wagons to cart the fudge away.
Of course, the children are let loose to clamber up and down the mountain, eating handfuls of fudge as they go, but inevitably, two of the children get up to no good.
The wonderfully named Tommy Troutbeck and Wilbur Rice decide to go joy-riding on the wagons, with predictably dire results. As usual with the naughty children in the book, they are rude and obstinate, ignoring the pleas of their parents and insulting Mr Wonka – “Nuts to you!”; “Crazy old Wonka!” they cry.
As the boys disappear through a hole in the wall that leads to The Pounding and Cutting Room, their parents - and the reader - are led to believe the worst by Mr Wonka who casually describes the process that the fudge (and the boys) would undergo before being shipped off to the shops.
This, of course, is a format that Roald Dahl used throughout the story and continued through further drafts – the naughty children get their comeuppance with the hint of a gruesome end for them, before we are given the relief of knowing that they are (probably) OK.
Mr Wonka assures the boys’ parents that a large wire strainer, specially put in place to catch errant children, would have caught them before anything nasty happened. “It always catches them. At least it always has up to now,” he says.
Why was this chapter, and the others surrounding it, removed from later versions of the story? We have a clue from the draft of a speech that Roald Dahl gave years later. Simply, there were too many naughty children and he had to remove some of them to give the story more pace:
“The trouble, though…was that I liked writing about beastly children so much that I couldn’t stop….I knew I had to throw out all except four of them. But I didn’t like doing it.” Roald Dahl, from a speech to an unknown audience.
However, the Fudge Mountain did remain in Willy Wonka’s Factory, and Charlie is given a tantalising glimpse of it in the final, published version of the story. As he whistles around in the Great Glass Elevator he sees "a great, craggy mountain made entirely of fudge, with Oompa-Loompas (all roped together for safety) hacking huge hunks of fudge out of its sides…’"
You can read the full chapter, and even see the Vanilla Fudge Mountain as illustrated by Roald Dahl’s principal illustrator Sir Quentin Blake, over on The Guardian website – and view Roald’s original draft of this fascinating chapter, now on display at the Roald Dahl Museum.
The unpublished drafts are just a few of the treasures of the Roald Dahl Archive, which is housed at the Museum in Roald's hometown of Great Missenden, Bucks, UK. Take a look here for a glimpse at another unpublished chapter - and stay tuned for a trip to 'The Warming Candy Room...'