A top children’s author has waded into the woke book editing row that’s seen favourite kids’ stories revised to avoid offending people.
Dame Jacqueline Wilson has revealed that she is “very against” editing classic text so that they fit with a more woke agenda and the sensitivities of modern audiences.
But she admits that editing some children’s books can be justified as young people “still haven’t got the power to sort things out”.
The editing of stories by authors such as Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl has been a hot topic of debate in recent weeks.
The Roald Dahl Story Company and Puffin Books carried out a review of Dahl’s classics which led to the removal or rewriting of content deemed offensive – including references to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race.
Blyton, the author of beloved book series including The Famous Five, Noddy and Malory Towers, has been criticised for racism and xenophobia in her books and her novels have been the subject to revisions.
Tracy Beaker author Dame Jacqueline told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I’m a kind of middle of the road person, I think it depends how it’s done.
“There are some things I think that would make us a bit worried if we returned to our old children’s favourites and read them with fresh eyes. We might be a little surprised.
“I think with children, they often absorb texts. They still haven’t got the power to sort things out and have a sense of history.
“However, I’m very against meddling with adult classics.
“I was just thinking about Jane Eyre the other day.
“I mean with the mad woman in the attic and the way she’s depicted, you’d never find that sort of treatment of people with serious mental health problems.
“And yet, I would be absolutely the forefront of people saying: ‘No, leave it alone. It’s my favourite book.”‘
Dame Jacqueline also railed against cancel culture in the chat.
She said: “I’m of the old school, I think: why can’t everybody just talk things over?
“Discuss things. You don’t have to agree with someone.
“But I think it’s more helpful to actually get to the bottom of what’s making people so angry.
“But whether I’d feel that in the midst of a baying crowd or not, I don’t know.
“I mean, life’s changed so much. And I think it’s good that people can make it clear what they feel, but I do think, a little bit of discussion (is necessary).”
The former children’s laureate Dame Jacqueline has sold more than 40 million books.