Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (First Edition) by Roald Dahl
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a children’s novel by Roald Dahl (1916-1990). The first edition of this work was published in 1964 by Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Background
The story was inspired by Roald Dahl’s childhood experiences of chocolate companies such as Cadbury and Rowntree’s. They would often test new products by sending them to schoolchildren and asking for their opinion. Cadbury and Rowntree’s were the two chocolate moguls at the time, and would try to steal trade secrets from each other and send spies into their competitor’s factories. Due to this, the companies were extremely protective of their chocolate recipes and processes. They also used elaborate and enormous machines, which inspired the interior of Willy Wonka’s factory.
The novel is considered a children’s classic. It was followed by a sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
Plot, Characters, Themes
The plot describes the life of a poor boy named Charlie Bucket, who lives in poverty with his family. There is a vast and secretive chocolate factory, owned by Willy Wonka, in the town, which no one is seen entering or leaving, yet produces the most wonderful and popular chocolate. It is so secretive due to the aims of its competitors to steal the secrets and infiltrate Wonka’s factory.
One day, Wonka decides to allow five children to visit, who will be chosen by finding golden tickets hidden inside chocolate bars. Charlie, finding a coin in the gutter, is lucky enough to find a ticket.
The other children are greedy, selfish and spoiled, and as they travel through the fantastical assortment of inventing rooms in the factory, guided by the eccentric Willy Wonka, each succumbs to an ‘accident’ caused by their own vices. Charlie is the only one left to resist temptation, and Wonka declares that he has passed the test, and will inherit the entire factory, saving his family from poverty.
Roald Dahl was a prolific writer of many kinds of fiction, however, he is best remembered for his imaginative classic children’s stories.
See main article: Roald Dahl first edition books
Notable auction sales and collecting tips
It must be noted that first editions (1964, Alfred A. Knopf, New York) were printed in America before Britain. They are worth much more in their original bindings and dust jackets, so it is not recommended to rebind them. They are also more valuable with a signature or inscription from Dahl.
First editions were sold by Bloomsbury Auctions for £2,400 in June 2005, by Swann Auction Galleries for $3,200 in April 2006, and by Sothebys, signed, for £5,520 in March 2005.