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Matilda by Roald Dahl first edition 1988

Matilda by Roald Dahl first edition 1988


London: Jonathan Cape, 1988 


Large 8vo., red publisher’s boards lettered in gilt to spine with publisher’s device to foot; in the original pictorial dust wrapper designed by Quentin Blake; pp. [vi], 7-237, [iii]; with numerous in-text illustrations by Blake; a near-fine copy with some minor bumps to the upper edge of rear board; light compression to spine tips and evidence of a book-plate or sticker excised from the ffep; exceptionally clean, otherwise, in the like dust jacket which is lightly creased to edges with a couple of small marks. 


First edition of this classic children’s work, intended for export, without the price or barcode to the lower panel. 


Dahl was inspired to write Matilda after reading Hilaire Belloc’s cautionary children’s verses. In the original poem, the character is a wicked girl ‘who tells dreadful lies’ and uses her psychokinetic powers to help a teacher win money at horse racing. Over time, and after suggestions from the author’s American editor, the character was changed to reflect an innocent, book-loving child whose powers were manifested from the abuse she received at the hands of her family and headteacher. Other characters were inspired by associates of Dahl; Miss Trunchbull came from the ‘mean and loathsome’ Sweet Shop owner that Dahl met while growing up in Cardiff, and Matilda’s father Mr Wormwood was based upon an acquaintance he knew in his home of Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire.  

The work has been adapted into film (1996, directed by and starring Danny DeVito), and in 2010 the musical was released, featuring songs written by Tim Minchin. Time magazine has listed Matilda in the 100 best Young-Adult Books of all time.

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