Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

'Willy Wonka and me,' by Quentin Blake

wwhero.jpg
qbhero.jpg
heroww.jpg

As Sam Mendes’ stage interpretation of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory opens at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London this week, Quentin Blake, writing exclusively for Stylist, reveals how he first brought Willy Wonka to life.

“I confess I can’t help feeling that my visualisation of a Roald Dahl book is the ‘real’ one – partly because I discussed the illustrations with Roald and drew what he wanted; partly because those drawings are what parents and children have known over the years; and partly because when you illustrate a book you live all the parts and come to feel you know them. That doesn’t give me a problem with other versions, for film or stage or in print. They are all works capable of being re-visited, and it’s interesting to see someone else’s take on the work.

It all began over 30 years ago with The BFG. Roald and I had done two books together already, but it was with The BFG that we discovered we needed to talk to each other in more detail. What was the BFG going to wear, for instance? We sat at the dinner table at Gipsy House [Dahl’s home in Buckinghamshire] and talked about it. I did some rough drawings, then a few days later a brown-paper parcel arrived containing one of Roald’s own Norwegian sandals, which became what the BFG wears in the book.

In 1990, after Roald’s death, Penguin Books bought the rights to the books I hadn’t previously worked on and asked me to re-illustrate them. So, no collaborative conversations now, alas; but because I had worked so closely with Roald over 15 years, I felt I had a sense of what he would like. And I wasn’t entirely on my own, because Mrs Dahl [Felicity Crosland] was there for counsel and advice.

With the hair of the Oompa-Loompas, for instance, other illustrators made it fuzzy, curly and hippy – I wanted to make their hair stand on end, to be more spritely and mischievous.

You won’t see it, however in the musical of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, where the Oompa-Loompas have been re-interpreted yet again for the stage.

I am writing this after my first visit. I’m very pleased to have made a contribution – the show opens with some of my drawings animated to show the story of chocolate; and not only that, but my mind is still bursting with the host of amazements Sam Mendes has created in re-visiting Roald’s imagination.”

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory is on now at Theatre Royal Drury Lane; charlieand thechocolatefactory.com

Related

hero-2.jpg

100 best films based on books

famous-five.jpg

The 50 best children's books

charhero2.jpg

100 best opening lines from children's books

Comments

More

13 books to read when you’re hating your job

For respite, perspective and escapism

by Scarlett Cayford
24 Feb 2017

The best (and worst) love advice from teen magazines

From dating to dumping, and everything in-between

by Sarah Biddlecombe
24 Feb 2017

These beautiful libraries are all available to rent on Airbnb

Calling all bookworms...

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

These new words have just been added to the dictionary for 2017

From squad goals to superfruit

by Sarah Biddlecombe
23 Feb 2017

Roxane Gay slams publisher for offering book deal to far-right troll

“Alt-right” internet provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos is not a good guy.

by Moya Crockett
21 Feb 2017

Margaret Atwood has a new warning about The Handmaid’s Tale

“You think you’re a liberal democracy and then – bang – you’re Hitler’s Germany”

by Kayleigh Dray
15 Feb 2017

JK Rowling humiliates Piers Morgan as he falls into her Twitter trap

Talk about fantastic tweets and where to find them…

by Kayleigh Dray
15 Feb 2017

JK Rowling utterly annihilates Piers Morgan for defending Trump

“The downside of sucking up to the biggest bully in school is getting burned alive”

by Kayleigh Dray
13 Feb 2017

The daily writing routine of best-selling author JoJo Moyes

Coffee, people-watching and Scrabble

by Sarah Biddlecombe
10 Feb 2017

Memoirs and marriage: the new books to perk up February

This month's best new releases

by Sarah Shaffi
10 Feb 2017