James and the Giant Peach

Published in 1961


James and the Giant Peach was Roald Dahl's first classic novel for children.



James Henry Trotter lives with his two horrid aunts, Spiker and Sponge. He hasn't got a single friend in the whole wide world. That is not, until he meets the Old Green Grasshopper and the rest of the insects aboard a giant, magical peach!

James and the Giant Peach was Roald Dahl's first classic novel for children. Although The Gremlins is sometimes referred to as an earlier example of his writing for children, James was Roald's first conscious attempt to write for a younger audience after several years of writing primarily adult short stories. Roald started writing it in 1959 after encouragement from his agent, Sheila St Lawrence.

In the orchard at Roald's home in the Buckinghamshire countryside, there was a cherry tree. Seeing this tree made him wonder: what if, one day, one of those cherries just kept on and on growing bigger and bigger? From giant cherries Roald also considered ever-increasing pears and even apples, but eventually settled on a giant peach as the method for James's magical journey. The book is dedicated to his two eldest daughters, Olivia and Tessa. It was first published in 1961 to glowing reviews and marked the beginning of his prolific career as a children's author.

James and the Giant Peach is still a favourite more than 50 years later. In 1996, an animated film version featuring the voices of Simon Callow, Richard Dreyfuss, Joanna Lumley, Miriam Margolyes, Pete Postlethwaite and Susan Sarandon was released, while David Wood's theatrical adaptation remains popular, playing across the UK.

Find out more about the period in Roald Dahl's life during which he wrote James and the Giant Peach


And now suddenly, the whole place, the whole garden seemed to be alive with magic.

Roald Dahl 1

James and the Giant Peach

….Marvellous things will start happening to you, fabulous, unbelievable things – and you will never be miserable again in your life.

The Old Man 1

Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach

There are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven't started wondering about yet.

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Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach


In 1988, Roald Dahl spoke to interviewer Todd McCormack about his methods. In this extract he talks about the idea for James and the Giant Peach.

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