The first appearance of The BFG

Posted by
Roald Dahl HQ
Posted on
12:20pm, 18th July

With The BFG Movie arriving in the UK this week, we take a look at Roald Dahl's very first ideas for the story about a Big Friendly Giant.

Have you ever had an idea so brilliant that you have to scribble it down as fast as you can before it disappears?

Roald Dahl used to keep an old exercise book with him at all times especially for these moments, which he called his ‘Ideas Book’. As the fantabulous BFG movie comes out in the UK this week, we thought we would share with you some of Roald Dahl’s very first ideas for a story about a Big Friendly Giant, which he used to tell to his children at bed time.

The BFG first came alive on a page which read:

‘A Fantasy
The man who captured and kept in bottles – ideas from the brain
pieces of knowledge

I saw them thrashing around furiously in their jars.
But where do you get your patients
- People like you 
- Oh dear

I was let out again in the end, but as you can see he took most of my knowledge, thoughts etc, you can see I’m quite dotty.'


Rather than keeping dreams in his jars, this giant stores the knowledge and thoughts of human beings – taking so many that they even go a bit mad! But the BFG soon turns into a character more like the kind and endearing figure that we find in the final book. On another page, Roald has written notes about a ghost story for the BFG, which begins at nightfall just like the mysterious night that Sophie is whisked off to Giant Country:

'Not many people know about the Big Friendly Giant. He only comes out at night. He moves very silently. He is careful not to be seen’.

He has powers for making children into:
Marvellous artists
Clever spellers
Great piano players
Strong boys'


Roald Dahl had the idea that all the children in the town where the BFG lived would leave a notice outside their bedroom window for him to find them. He also illustrated how these special gifts would get inside the children's rooms (which might look familiar if you’ve read the book!). He drew a picture of a big trumpet blowing something towards a child’s bed.

Roald's children remember that he even made his own BFG trumpet! He climbed up a ladder and put a piece of bamboo through their window, blowing whooshing sounds through it while they were sleeping.

Roald Dahl used his ideas book to jot down all sorts of ideas that he later made into stories…why don’t you try making one yourself?

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