Published in 1968
Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox features three horrid farmers - Boggis, Bunce and Bean - who really hate cunning Mr Fox...
Three horrid farmers - Boggis, Bunce and Bean - hate cunning Mr Fox, who outwits them at every turn. But poor Mr Fox and his friends don't realise how determined the farmers are to get them...
Roald Dahl lived with his family in Great Missenden, a village in Buckinghamshire, UK. Their house was surrounded by fields and woods. As a passionate lover of the countryside, there was one particular tree - known locally as "the witches tree" - that sat on the lane near the Dahl home and came to inspire one of Roald's own favourite stories: Fantastic Mr Fox.
The "witches tree" was a large, 150-year-old beech. Sadly the tree is no longer standing but when his children were growing up Roald always used to tell them that it was where Mr Fox and his family lived, in a hole beneath the trunk, just as the Fox family do in the story.
Published in 1970, the story of Mr Fox and his feud with Boggis, Bunce and Bean has gone on to inspire many other artists, including a 1998 operatic version of the story composed by Tobias Picker to a libretto by Donald Sturrock, and a critically acclaimed stop-motion film directed by Wes Anderson featuring the voices of George Clooney and Meryl Streep.
During the making of the film version of Fantastic Mr Fox, Wes Anderson returned to the Great Missenden countryside that had inspired the original story, staying with Roald's widow Felicity "Liccy" Dahl while he wrote the screenplay.
In the original book Mr and Mrs Fox don't have first names, but in his version Wes gave Mrs Fox the name Felicity. Much of the film's art direction was inspired by the house and gardens where Roald had lived, and many of the scenes you will see in the finished film are based on places in the area including local pub The Nags Head, previously frequented by Roald himself.
The model of The Nags Head made for Fantastic Mr Fox is now on display at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, just down the road from the pub itself.
On a hill above the valley there was a wood. In the wood there was a huge tree. Under the tree there was a hole. In the hole lived Mr Fox and Mrs Fox and their four Small Foxes.
...Mrs Fox said to her children, 'I should like you to know that if it wasn't for your father we should all be dead by now. Your father is a fantastic fox.'
Mr Fox looked at the four Small Foxes and he smiled. What fine children I have, he thought.
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.
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.
MY HUSBAND IS A FANTASTIC FOX.
Mrs Fox 1
Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox