James and the Giant Peach (First Edition) by Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach is a children’s novel by Roald Dahl (1916-1990). The first edition of this work was published in 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Background
Dahl’s children’s stories are often told from a child’s perspective. The villain is usually an adult who hates and mistreats children, that the children eventually outwit. It is believed that these adult villains are based on those that Dahl suffered abuse at the hands of in boarding school. They often feature grotesque characters and scenarios. Dahl enjoyed creating narratives on the level with children, not speaking down to them, and making them laugh with rudeness and oddity.
James and the Giant Peach is considered a children’s classic, a masterwork of imagination, and is one of the most popular of Dahl’s books.
Plot, Characters, Themes
The plot follows an English orphan boy, whose parents were eaten by a giant rhino. James is forced to live with two awful aunts called Spiker and Sponge, who physically and verbally abuse him.
One day James finds a little green man who gives him a sack of tiny glowing green crocodile tongues, to make a happiness potion with. James accidentally spills the contents onto a peach tree, which had never before given fruit. A giant peach grows. James crawls into the peach, and finds a group of giant anthropomorphic insects. Together they set off on an adventure and become good friends.
Numerous strange and wonderful things occur, until they reach New York, where they are hailed as heroes. The peach is eaten by ten thousand children, all James’ new friends. The insects make lives for themselves among the humans, and James makes a mansion from the stone of the peach to live in.
Roald Dahl is best remembered for children’s stories, considered classics of children’s literature.
See main article: Roald Dahl first edition books
Notable auction sales and collecting tips
It must be noted that first editions (1961, Alfred A. Knopf, New York) were printed in America before Britain. They feature the illustrations of Nancy Ekholm Burkert. 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 Christie’s for £1,800 in November 2005, PBA Galleries for $2,750 in October 2008, and Swann Auction Galleries for $5,000 in April 2006.
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