"Bean was a turkey-and-apple farmer. He kept thousands of turkeys in an orchard full of apple trees. He never ate any food at all. Instead, he drank gallons of strong cider which he made from the apples in his orchard. He was thin as a pencil and the cleverest of them all."- Fantastic Mr Fox
Along with Boggis and Bunce, Bean appears in Roald Dahl's 1970 children's story, Fantastic Mr Fox. He is one of three farmers plagued by the cunning Mr Fox, who regularly raids Bean's farm in order to feed his family.
It is Bean that comes up with the farmer's plan to capture the Foxes, and it is because of him that Mr Fox loses his fine tail. But even Farmer Bean is no match for Mr Fox, as he soon finds out...
The 2009 animated film version of Fantastic Mr Fox, directed by Wes Anderson, have Bean a first name - Franklin. The character was voiced by actor Michael Gambon, who also played Albus Dumbledore in the final six films in the Harry Potter series.
"Boggis was a chicken farmer. He kept thousands of chickens. He was enormously fat. This was because he ate three boiled chickens smothered with dumplings every day for breakfast, lunch and supper." - Fantastic Mr Fox
Boggis is one of three farmers that appear in Roald Dahl's 1970 children's story Fantastic Mr Fox. Along with Bunce and Bean, he makes it his business to do all he can to prevent Mr Fox from taking any more of his chickens. From shooting at him to starving the Fox family out of their home, he'll do anything to stop cunning Mr Fox.
In Wes Anderson's 2009 stop-motion animated film version of Fantastic Mr Fox, Boggis was given a first name - Walter - and was voiced by actor Robin Hurlstone.
"Mr Bucket was the only person in the family with a job. He worked in a toothpaste factory, where he sat all day long at a bench and screwed the little caps on to the tops of the tubes of toothpaste after the tubes had been filled." - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Mr Bucket appears in two of Roald Dahl's stories: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. He does not appear in all subsequent adaptations of the book including the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, where Mr Bucket is dead.
Mr Bucket is married to Mrs Bucket and they have one son, Charlie. In the original story and the majority of adaptations, his parents are Charlie's Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josephine, although in the 1971 film he is the son of Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina.
When we first meet him at the beginning of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he works in the local toothpaste factory, but when he later loses his job, money for the Bucket family becomes even tighter than usual.
Luckily for Mr Bucket, everything changes when Charlie finds his Golden Ticket. He is a man of few words - even during his space encounters in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator - but Mr Wonka's experiments with his parents-in-law and several doses of Wonka-Vite do give him some excitement...
In the 2005 film, Mr Bucket was played by Noah Taylor.
"Mr and Mrs Bucket have a small boy whose name is Charlie." - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Mrs Bucket appears in two of Roald Dahl's stories: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its various film and stage adaptations, and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. She is the wife of Mr Bucket and the mother of Charlie. Her parents in the original story are Charlie's Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina, although in the 1971 film she is the daughter of Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josephine.
Mrs Bucket is a kind and caring mother. In the original story, when Mr Bucket loses his job and the family begin to starve, Mrs Bucket tries to make sure Charlie has her extra piece of bread, although Charlie won't take it.
In the original story Mrs Bucket does not have a job, but in the 1971 film version, she works as a laundress. In the 2013 musical adaptation, Mrs Bucket works part-time, as does as her husband.
She is a woman of few words, but family means a lot to Mrs Bucket. In Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, she is very sad when she fears she has lost her mother to Minus Land and, seeing his mother so unhappy, Charlie determines to get his grandmother back.
In the 1971 film adaptation Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Mrs Bucket is played by Diana Sowle and in the 2005 film version, directed by Tim Burton, she is played by Helena Bonham Carter.
"Bunce was a duck-and-goose farmer. He kept thousands of ducks and geese. He was a kind of pot-bellied dwarf. He was so short his chin would have been underwater in the shallow end of any swimming pool in the world." - Fantastic Mr Fox
Bunce is the second of the three farmers in Fantastic Mr Fox. Like his colleagues, he is rich, mean, and infuriated at Mr Fox's night-time raids on his farm. Determined to put a stop to it, he and farmers Boggis and Bean set out to trap Mr Fox and his family - to starve them out of their foxhole once and for all. Unhappily for Bunce, Mr Fox is a clever fellow who quickly finds a solution to the problem the farmers put him in...
In 2009, Wes Anderson's film adaptation of Fantastic Mr Fox was released. The animated film gives Bunce a first name - Nathaniel - and the character was voiced by Hugo Guinness.
"'An absolutely clean child gives off the most ghastly stench to a witch,' my grandmother said. 'The dirtier you are, the less you smell.'"- The Witches
The Witches was originally published in 1983 and, in the original story, neither the young narrator of the story or his Grandmother are ever named. In the 1990 film version, however, Grandmother was given the name Helga Eveshim and played by Mai Zetterling.
It is often said that Roald Dahl based the character of the narrator's storytelling, cigar-smoking Norwegian grandmother on his own mother - a woman he said was "undoubtedly the absolute primary influence on my own life" in More About Boy.
She is certainly a brave and formiddable character. A retired witchophile, it's her warnings to her grandson that keep him alert to the dangers posed by the Witches. When his brush with The Grand High Witch leaves him forever changed - although not in the film version - she doesn't flinch. Together, they manage to outsmart not only all the English witches but even The Grand High Witch herself...
"'I can fly faster than any of you!' cried Grandpa George, whizzing round and round, his nightgown billowing out behind him like the tail of a parrot." - Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
Grandpa George appears in two of Roald Dahl's stories: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - adapted for two feature films, an opera and a stage musical - and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. He is the grandfather of Charlie Bucket and the husband of Grandma Georgina. In the original stories, he is the father of Mrs Bucket, although in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory he became Mr Bucket's father. In Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator we learn that Grandpa George is 81 exactly.
If Grandpa Joe is an eternal optimist, Grandpa George is more of a cynic. He reminds Charlie that his chances of winning a Golden Ticket are small, and he - like his wife and Grandma Josephine - is very distrustful of Mr Wonka.
He is also unable to stop himself being greedy when it comes to the Wonka-Vite pills he is offered in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Much like the children who joined Charlie on his trip around the Chocolate Factory, he chooses to ignore Mr Wonka's advice - with equally strange consequences...
Grandpa George has been played on film by Ernst Ziegler (1971) and David Morris (2005).
"There she was again, the same cantankerous grumbling old Grandma Georgina that Charlie had known so well before it all started." - Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
Charlie Bucket's Grandma Georgina appears in two of Roald Dahl's books and their various film and stage adaptations: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. She is married to Grandpa George and her daughter is Charlie's mother, at least in the original stories. In the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, she became Mr Bucket's mother instead.
We learn in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator that Grandma Georgina is 78, a fact that becomes very significant when she greedily takes four Wonka-Vite pills instead of the smaller amount recommended by Mr Wonka.
Grandma Georgina, like her husband and Grandma Josephine, does not trust Willy Wonka. "He footles around," she tells Charlie early in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. But she can't deny that Willy Wonka's arrival in their lives makes for some exciting adventures: having previously not left her bed in 20 years, after a few hours in his company she has been up into orbit, down to Minusland, and back in time onboard the Mayflower...
In 1971, Grandma Georgina was played by Dora Altmann in the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Liz Smith played the role in the 2005 film adaptation.
"Grandpa Joe was the oldest of the four grandparents. He was ninety-six and a half, and that is just about as old as anybody can be." - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Grandpa Joe appears in two of Roald Dahl's stories: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its various film and stage adaptations, and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. He is the grandfather of Charlie Bucket and is married to Grandma Josephine.
In the original story and the majority of adaptations, he is the father of Mr Bucket - Charlie's dad - although in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, it is Mrs Bucket who is his daughter.
Grandpa Joe is an enthusiastic storyteller, an eternal optimist and a bit of a gambler. It is he who tells Charlie all about the famous chocolatier Willy Wonka and he encourages Charlie in his hopes for a Golden Ticket, even giving Charlie the money to have one more try.
When we first meet him, Grandpa Joe has not been out of bed in years, but when Charlie does find his Golden Ticket he is so excited he leaps back up. So it is Grandpa Joe who accompanies Charlie to the Chocolate Factory and shares in all the adventures. When they end up in orbit in the Great Glass Elevator, it is he who helps Charlie and Mr Wonka to steady the ship, and when they are back in the Factory he is the only grandparent to refrain from sampling the famous Wonka-Vite. He's a sensible man, after all, and he does his best to take care of his wife - even when she becomes a three-month old...
In the 1971 film, Grandpa Joe was played by Jack Albertson, while David Kelly played the role in the 2005 film adaptation.
"These two very old people are the father and mother of Mr Bucket. Their names are Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josephine." - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Charlie Bucket's Grandma Josephine appears in two of Roald Dahl's stories: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its film and theatre adaptations, and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. She is the wife of Grandpa Joe and, in the original story, the mother of Mr Bucket - although in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, it is Mrs Bucket who is her daughter. In Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator we learn that Grandma Josephine is 80 years and three months old.
When we first meet Grandma Josephine she has not been out of the bed she shares with Grandpa Joe, Grandma Georgina and Grandpa George in many years. But where Grandpa Joe is so enthused by Charlie's Golden Ticket win that he leaps out of the bed to join him at the Factory, Grandma Josephine would much rather stay where she is.
In fact, she is so keen to stay in bed that it is only when the Great Glass Elevator heads into orbit that she leaves it, and once returned to earth, she refuses to leave it again. It is only when Mr Wonka suggests she try a drop of his famous Wonka-Vite that she is tempted...
In the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Grandma Josephine was played by Franziska Liebing. in the 2005 film, Eileen Essell played the role.
"Mr Hoppy lived in a small flat high up in a tall concrete building. He lived alone. He had always been a lonely man and now that he was retired from work he was more lonely than ever." - Esio Trot
Mr Hoppy appears in Esio Trot, Roald Dahl's tale of two neighbours brought together by a small tortoise called Alfie. Esio Trot was released in 1990, and was the last of Roald Dahl's children's books to be published in his lifetime.
Mr Hoppy is, as the very first sentence on the very first page tells us, a lonely man. He is also a shy man. And yet he is a man with two great loves: the flowers on his balcony and Mrs Silver, his downstairs neighbour.
It is this second love that drives Mr Hoppy to ingenious lengths. When Mrs Silver complains that her tortoise Alfie is not growing nearly as quickly as she would like, Mr Hoppy comes up with a plan...
He tells Mrs Silver to read to her tortoise every day a poem that begins: "Esio Trot, Esio Trot, Teg Reggib Reggib!" ("Tortoise, Tortoise, Get Bigger Bigger!")
This backwards language is, he tells her, a secret tip from a bedouin tribesman designed to make tortoises grow - because, as he says, "tortoises are very backwards creatures."
As Mrs Silver reads the poem to her Alfie, Mr Hoppy begins his real work - making the spell come true...
Mr Hoppy is played by Dustin Hoffman in the 2015 BBC One adaptation of the story. Although he is British in the book, onscreen Dustin Hoffman plays him as an American. Roald Dahl tells us that before retirement, Mr Hoppy was a "mechanic in a bus-garage." In the BBC adaptation Mr Hoppy' is a retired airline engineer.
In the original story, Mr Hoppy's ruse to make Mrs Silver think Alfie has grown is not discovered.
"Miss Jennifer Honey was a mild and quiet person who never raised her voice and was seldom seen to smile, but there is no doubt she possessed that rare gift for being adored by every small child under her care." - Matilda
Miss Honey is Matilda Wormwood's class teacher at Crunchem Hall Primary School. Aside from librarian Mrs Phelps, she is the first person to fully appreciate Matilda's incredible abilities and tries to bring them to the attention of the school's formidable headteacher Miss Trunchbull and Matilda's uninterested parents.
Undeterred by their reactions, Miss Honey does all she can to encourage Matilda. In doing so, the pair become firm friends and it's Miss Honey's own story that leads Matilda to an incredible discovery about the true power of her brain...
Matilda was published in 1988. The story was adapted for cinema in 1996, starring Embeth Davidtz as Miss Honey. In 2010, the RSC's musical adaptation of the story opened in Stratford-upon-Avon. The show, which was written by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin, went on to open in London's West End, on Broadway and in Australia.
"'The Queen of England,' Sophie said. 'You can't call her a squifflerotter or a grinksludger.'" - The BFG
Her Majesty the Queen - or Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, to give her her full UK title - makes a very important royal appearance in The BFG, Roald Dahl's much-loved children's story about a Big Friendly Giant and his orphan friend Sophie.
It is to the Queen that The BFG and Sophie go for help in stopping those horrible Other Giants from gobbling up people across the world. As for the way they ask her for help - well, let's just say it involves a bad dream, a window-ledge and a white-faced, screaming maid.
The Queen is not one for screaming, though. In The BFG, she is a composed, tactful and wise lady who keeps her cool and remains relatively unfazed by the appearance of a little girl on her windowsill and a Giant in the palace gardens. She is quick to take charge of her blustering officials and instructs them to follow The BFG's plan for stopping the Other Giants. She even keeps her composure when The BFG demonstrates his whizzpopping abilities to her...
That full title is a bit of a mouthful, though, so The BFG sticks to Your Majester.
"'Did you know,' Mrs Phelps said, 'that public libraries like this allow you to borrow books and take them home?'" - Matilda
Mrs Phelps is the librarian in charge of Matilda Wormwood's local library and so she is also the first grown-up (aside from Matilda's uninterested parents) to witness first hand Matilda's incredible reading abilities.
Patient as she is, Mrs Phelps spends the first few weeks observing four-year-old Matilda as she works her way through all the children's books in the library. When she has finished, Mrs Phelps hides her astonishment and shares with Matilda her very first adult story: Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. Under Mrs Phelps's "watchful and compassionate eye," Matilda goes on to read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Invisible Man by H.G Wells, Animal Farm by George Orwell, and many more.
In 1996, Matilda was adapted for the big screen. Jean Speegle Howard played Miss Phelps in the film. The story has also been adapted for the stage, with the RSC's production of Matilda The Musical now playing in London, on Broadway and in Australia.
"The trouble with Mrs Silver was that she gave all her love to somebody else, and that somebody else was a small tortoise called Alfie." - Esio Trot
Mrs Silver appears in Roald Dahl's 1990 story Esio Trot. She lives below Mr Hoppy (who is secretly in love with her) in a block of flats with her tortoise, Alfie - her own greatest love.
A warm, kind-hearted woman, Mrs Silver is also - as Judi Dench, who plays her in the 2015 BBC One adaptation, says - "quite a dotty woman who seems to not notice her tortoise grows massively in an unbelievably short time!"
This is because Mrs Silver's main concern about Alfie is that he is too small. "Try to think how miserable it must make him feel to be so titchy! Everyone wants to grow up," she tells Mr Hoppy.
So Mr Hoppy gives her a little trick to help Alfie grow bigger...
In the 2015 film, Mrs Silver is a retired mid-wife, whereas in the original story she has a part-time job in a shop that sells newspapers and sweets.
"Aunt Spiker... was lean and tall and bony, and she wore steel-rimmed spectacles that fixed on to the end of her nose with a clip. She had a screeching voice and long wet narrow lips..." - James and the Giant Peach
Aunt Spiker appears in Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, his first famous children's story. She and her sister, Sponge, live with their nephew, James Henry Trotter, who they treat horribly. The original story doesn't tell us whether she is related to James through his mother or father, but either way, she is not the sort of kind and cuddly aunt you might hope for. As Roald describes her, she is a thin and spiky sort of a woman who is quick to anger and slow to care.
In the 1996 animated film version of James and the Giant Peach, Aunt Spiker was played by Joanna Lumley. The film version differs from Roald's original story - while the book tells of Spiker and Sponge meeting their fate under the weight of the Giant Peach, the film has them chasing James and his friends all the way to New York City, where they are ultimately arrested.
"Aunt Sponge was enormously fat and very short. She had small piggy eyes, a sunken mouth, and one of those white flabby faces that looked exactly as though it had been boiled." - James and the Giant Peach
Aunt Sponge appears in Roald Dahl's first famous children's book, James and the Giant Peach. Along with her sister, Spiker, she treats her nephew James horribly, making him do all the housework and not allowing him to meet any other children.
In the original story, Spiker and Sponge are eventually seen off by the Giant Peach that also enables James to make his escape. In the 1996 animated film production however, Spiker and Sponge - played by Miriam Margolyes - follow James to New York City, where they are arrested.
Interestingly, we never learn in the original story whether Spiker and Sponge are the sisters of James's father or mother.
"Looking at her, you got the feeling that this was someone who could bend iron bars and tear telephone directories in half." - Matilda
Miss Trunchbull is the "formidable female" headmistress of Crunchem Hall Primary School, attended by Matilda Wormwood and her friends. A former Olympic hammer-thrower with a hatred of children, Roald Dahl describes her as "a gigantic holy terror, a fierce tyranical monster who frightened the life out of pupils and teachers alike."
She's certainly not the sort of woman you'd expect to find as headmistress of a school. Her behaviour to her pupils - from force-feeding them cake to throwing them across the playground by their pigtails - is outrageous. According to Matilda, it's for this very reason that she gets away with it. "No parent is going to believe this pigtail story, not in a million years," she tells her friend Lavender.
The Trunchbull is certainly not afraid of going the whole hog. And it's not just her pupils that suffer - Miss Honey also has to deal with the outrageous demands of this bullying headmistress. With a little help from Matilda, though, Miss Trunchbull does get her compeuppance...
In 1996, a film version of Matilda was released, with Pam Ferris playing Miss Trunchbull. In the RSC's musical adaptation of the story, the Trunchbull is played by a man. Actor Bertie Carvel originated the role both in London and on Broadway.
"Mr Twit was a twit. He was born a twit. And now at the age of sixty, he was a bigger twit than ever." - The Twits
Mr Twit is one half of a horrible couple called The Twits. He and his wife (and we never really find out why they married...) spend most of their time terrorising each other with nasty tricks, except for the times when they're terrorising the children, animals and birds that have the misfortune to cross their path - like the poor Muggle-Wump Monkeys.
The other thing you should know about Mr Twit is that he has a horrible, hairy, bristly, dirty, smelly beard that he never washes. Ever. "Even on Sundays," we're told.
As a result, that beard is full of all sorts of disgusting leftovers from Mr Twit's meals: cornflakes, tinned sardines, stilton cheese.
Roald Dahl tells us, "Because of all this, Mr Twit never really went hungry. By sticking out his tongue and curling it sideways to explore the hairy jungle around his mouth, he was always able to find a tasty morsel here and there to nibble on."
We know. YUCK.
"But the funny thing is that Mrs Twit wasn't born ugly. She'd had a quite nice face when she was young. The ugliness had grown upon her year by year as she got older." - The Twits
Mrs Twit is horrible as well as ugly, and she is married to the equally nasty Mr Twit. The two of them spend all their time playing mean tricks on each other, and on the other unfortunate people and creatures that they meet.
Mrs Twit has a glass eye (that she adds to Mr Twit's water-glass so he knows she's got her eye on him) and a walking stick (that Mr Twit uses to convince her she's got the Dreaded Shrinks.)
Horrible as she may be, Mrs Twit is also the subject of one of Roald Dahl's best-known quotes. After talking about her growing ugliness, the story goes on to say:
"Why would that happen? I'll tell you why.
If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets so ugly you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."
“'Mr Willy Wonka is the most amazing, the most fantastic, the most extraordinary chocolate maker the world has ever seen!'" - Grandpa Joe, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Willy Wonka himself appears in two of Roald Dahl's stories: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - which has been adapted into two films, an opera and a stage musical - and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. His chocolate factory also appears briefly in James and the Giant Peach, and his famous Wonka chocolate makes an appearance in The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me.
Willy Wonka is extraordinary. He's a chocolate-making genius who relishes nonsense. He can't abide ugliness in factories. And he likes to make mischief, even if that means talking to the President of the United States whilst pretending to be a man from Mars, as he does in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
This is how Roald describes Willy Wonka, the very first time we see him in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
"How clever he looked! How quick and sharp and full of life! He kept making quick jerky little movements with his head, cocking it this way and that, and taking everything in with those bright twinkling eyes. He was like a squirrel in the quickness of his movements, like a quick clever old squirrel from the park."
And he's not just a genius with chocolate. Mr Wonka is also a very well-travelled man, having been all the way to Loompa-Land and to the farthest reaches of outer space. He's a thoughtful man, who knows that only a child like Charlie could ever be the right person to take over his Chocolate Factory. And he's a clever man, with a knack of getting the right people to do the right things at the right time.
In short, Mr Willy Wonka is a man who knows a thing or two.
On film, this iconic character has been bought to life by Gene Wilder (in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) and Johnny Depp (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 2005.)
"Mr Wormwood was a small ratty-looking man whose front teeth stuck out underneath a thin ratty moustache. He liked to wear jackets with brightly coloured checks and he sported ties that were usually yellow or pale green." - Matilda
Mr Wormwood - husband to Mrs Wormwood and father of Michael and Matilda - is a second-hand car salesman who likes to swindle his customers. "Sawdust," he tells his family, "is one of the great secrets of my succes."
He's also a boastful, arrogant man who is utterly disinterested in his daughter, despite the fact that, by the age of four, she is reading Dickens and doing sums in her head that baffle him. He doesn't undersand her love of reading. "What d'you want a flaming book for?" he demands, when Matilda asks him.
Matilda gets her own back, though. The tricks she plays on her parents are ingenious - and teach Mr Wormwood to be a lot more careful about where he leaves his hat...
Matilda was adapted for the screen in 1996, with Danny DeVito playing the role of Harry Wormwood. The RSC's 2010 Matilda The Musical, featuring words and music by Tim Minchin and book by Dennis Kelly, inclues a solo piece by Mr Wormwood all about his main love: telly.
"'A girl should think about making herself attractive so she can get a good husband later on. Looks is more important than books.'" - Mrs Wormwood, Matilda
Mrs Wormwood is the neglectful mother of Matilda and her brother Michael. She's more interested in her TV programmes and playing bingo as often as she can to notice that her daughter is bordering on genius. When Matilda's teacher, Miss Honey, comes to tell her parents that she thinks Matilda could be brought up to university standard, Mrs Wormwood declares that looks are more important.
In the 1996 film adaptation of Matilda, Mrs Wormwood was played by Rhea Pearlman. In the RSC's musical adaptation of the story, Mrs Wormwood's obsession is dancing as opposed to bingo, but she's equally as neglectful and obnoxious.