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11 Things You Should Know About The BFG

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Ellie Griffiths
Updated: 8 February 2017
The Big Friendly Giant, or The BFG, was one of Roald Dahl’s much-loved stories and characters, and was one he returned to on several occasions. Being originally published in 1982, followed by an animated TV film, what better way to celebrate Dahl’s centenary than the upcoming release of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of The BFG. We take a look at some of the things you should know about The BFG.


1.   Have you ever wondered who the original BFG was? Roald Dahl himself, that’s who! He would tell his children and later his grandchildren the stories of the dream-catching giant, before blowing ‘good dreams’ through the window after climbing a ladder outside their bedrooms – just like The BFG. Now, that’s love!


2.   The BFG was originally featured in Danny the Champion of the World, as Danny’s dad would tell him this bedtime story for at least 50 nights. Many of the characteristics of The BFG mentioned to Danny remain the same, including his incredible hearing and the ability to mix dreams for young children.

The BFG by Roald Dahl | © Penguin

The BFG by Roald Dahl | © Penguin

3.  Originally illustrated by Jill Bennett in Danny the Champion of the World, The BFG is very different to the one we are familiar with today. This illustration (alongside many others) went on sale for £85,000 at The National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England.


4.   Dahl kept old exercise books full of ideas, and looked back on it whenever he sought inspiration for a new story or character. He called them his ‘Ideas Books’. The BFG started here, in sketches and writing, and wasn’t brought to life until Dahl was 66.

2016 marks 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl - the world’s number one storyteller | Courtesy of the Roald Dahl Literary Estate

2016 marks 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl – the world’s number one storyteller | Courtesy of the Roald Dahl Literary Estate

5.   The main character in The BFG was originally a boy named Jody; however, after the birth of Dahl’s first grandchild Sophie, he changed Jody to a girl named Sophie.


6.   “Words… is oh such a twitch-ticking problem to me all my life.” The BFG spoke his own language, which is where most of Dahl’s creative words come into play. The language is known as Gobblefunk – and the fact that it is portrayed across Dahl’s works is whoopsy wiffling (great)!


7.   Although previously having worked together on The Enormous Crocodile (1978), Quentin Blake and Roald Dahl only met for the first time whilst collaborating on The BFG. It was the help of the Big Friendly Giant that created a long, successful partnership between the two of them.

Roald Dahl | Courtesy of the Roald Dahl Literary Estate

Roald Dahl | Courtesy of the Roald Dahl Literary Estate

8.   Dahl owned a pair of brown suede Norwegian sandals which he requested Blake base the design of The BFG’s sandals on — even more proof that Dahl is in fact The BFG.


9.   Dahl’s then-editor Stephen Roxburgh suggested the incident where The BFG whizzpops in front of the Queen should be removed. However, being the creative soul that Dahl is, he responded to Roxburgh stating “…I’ve gone even further and had the BFG doing a whizzpopper for the Queen. Slightly vulgar, perhaps. But you and I know that the children will love it. And this is a book for children.”

BFG sandal | Courtesy of The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre

BFG sandal | Courtesy of The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre

10.   Although we love to imagine that the BFG was entirely inspired by Dahl himself, it has been mentioned that The BFG is partly inspired by Wally Saunders – the man who built the famous Writing Hut. He was a man with large ears and was also very tall — and clearly a very friendly and creative man himself.


11.   Have you ever wanted to visit Dahl’s grave to pay your respects? When arriving in the churchyard in Great Missenden, England, follow the BFG’s footprints from a little tree to his gravestone. You may notice some pennies and pencils – but make sure you leave them.. the BFG will collect them when the time is right.



Steven Spielberg’s The BFG hits UK cinemas in July 2016.

For more information on centenary celebrations, visit Roald Dahl 100.

You can see the original ideas of The BFG in the Ideas Books, Dahl’s Norwegian sandal, and many more at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.

Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, 81-83 High St, Great Missenden HP16 0AL



By Ellie Griffiths