First edition cover
AuthorRoald Dahl
Original titleTHE BFG
IllustratorQuentin Blake
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreChildren's, Fantasy
Published14 January 1982 Jonathan Cape (original)
Penguin Books (current)
Media typePaperback

The BFG (short for The Big Friendly Giant) is a 1982 children's novel by British author Roald Dahl. It is an expansion of a short story from Dahl's 1975 novel Danny, the Champion of the World. The book is dedicated to Dahl's late daughter, Olivia, who died of measles encephalitis at the age of seven in 1962.[1]

An animated adaptation was released in 1989 with David Jason providing the voice of the BFG and Amanda Root as the voice of Sophie. It has also been adapted as a theatre performance.[2] A theatrical Disney live-action adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg was released in 2016.

As of 2009, the novel has sold 37 million copies, with more than 1 million copies sold around the world every year.[3] In 2003, The BFG was listed at number 56 in The Big Read, a BBC survey of the British public.[4] In 2012, the novel was ranked number 88 among all-time best children's novels in a survey published by School Library Journal, a US monthly.[5] In 2012, the BFG and Sophie appeared on Royal Mail commemorative postage stamps.[6]


Sophie, an eight-year-old girl in an orphanage, cannot sleep. Looking out of her window, she sees a mysterious Giant Man in the street, carrying a suitcase and a trumpet. The giant sees Sophie, who tries to hide in bed, but the giant picks her up through the window. Sophie is carried to a large cave in the middle of a desolate land, where the giant sets her down. Believing that he intends to eat her, Sophie pleads for her life, but the giant laughs and dismisses the idea. He explains that although most giants do eat humans, he does not because he is the Big Friendly Giant, or BFG; he had carried Sophie off merely so she would not reveal that she had seen a real giant, which would put him at risk of being captured for a zoo-exhibit.

The BFG explains, in a unique and messy speech, that his nine neighbours are much bigger and stronger giants, who all happily eat humans every night. They vary their choice of destination both to avoid detection and because the humans' origins affect their taste. For example, people from Greece taste greasy, so no giant goes there, while people from Panama taste like hats. As he will never allow Sophie to leave in case she tells anyone of his existence, the BFG reveals the purpose of his suitcase and trumpet: he catches dreams in Dream Country, collects them in jars, and gives the good ones to children all around the world, but destroys the bad ones. Since he does not eat people, he must eat the only crop which grows on his land —-- the repulsive snozzcumber, which looks like a cucumber.

When the Bloodbottler, one of the other giants, enters the cave uninvited, Sophie hides in the snozzcumber; not knowing this, the BFG, in the hope that its revolting taste will drive the Bloodbottler away and thus prevent his discovering Sophie, tricks the Bloodbottler into eating the vegetable. The Bloodbottler takes a bite of the snozzcumber; unknowingly putting Sophie in his mouth. Luckily, the larger giant spits her out unnoticed and leaves in disgust, much to the BFG's and Sophie's relief. They then drink frobscottle, a delicious fizzy drink where the bubbles sink downwards rather than upwards, causing powerful and noisy flatulence, which the BFG calls "whizzpopping".

The BFG takes Sophie to Dream Country but is bullied along the way by his neighbors, led by Fleshlumpeater, the largest and strongest. Sophie watches the BFG catch two dreams—while one would be a good dream, the other is a nightmare. Resentful of the other giants' mistreatment of him earlier that day, the BFG sneaks up to where they are napping and looses the nightmare on Fleshlumpeater, who has a dream about a giant killer named Jack and accidentally starts a brawl with his companions due to his indiscriminate flailing and thrashing about while still asleep.

Sophie persuades the BFG to approach the Queen of England for help with the other giants. She navigates the giant to Buckingham Palace, where he places her in the Queen's bedroom. He then gives the Queen a nightmare that closely parallels actual events; because the BFG setting Sophie in her bedroom was part of the dream, the Queen believes her and speaks with the giant over breakfast. Fully convinced, she authorizes a task force to travel to the giants' homeland and secure them as they sleep.

The BFG guides a fleet of helicopters to the sleeping giants. Eight are successfully shackled, but Fleshlumpeater awakes; Sophie and the BFG trick him into being tied up. Having collected the BFG's dream collection, the helicopters carry the giants back to England, where they are imprisoned in a massive pit.

Every country that the giants had visited in the past sends thanks and gifts to the BFG and Sophie, for whom residences are built in Windsor Great Park. Tourists come in huge numbers to watch the giants in the pit, who are only fed snozzcumbers; they receive an unexpected welcome snack when three drunks manage to climb the safety fence one night and fall in. The BFG receives the official title of Royal Dream-Blower, and continues bestowing dreams upon children; he also learns to speak and write more intelligibly, writing a book identified as the novel itself, under another's name.


2023 censorship controversy

See also: Roald Dahl revision controversy

Despite Roald Dahl having enjoined his publishers not to "so much as change a single comma in one of my books", in February 2023 Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Books, announced it would be re-writing portions of many of Dahl's children's novels, changing the language to, in the publisher's words, "ensure that it can continue to be enjoyed by all today."[8] The decision was met with sharp criticism from groups and public figures including authors Salman Rushdie[9][10][11] and Christopher Paolini,[11] British prime minister Rishi Sunak,[9][10] Queen Camilla,[9][12] Kemi Badenoch,[13] PEN America,[9] and Brian Cox.[13] Dahl's publishers in the United States, France, and the Netherlands announced they had declined to incorporate the changes.[9]

In The BFG, more than eighty changes were made, including changing or removing references to colour in people (such as changing "Something very tall and very black and very thin" to "Something very tall and very dark and very thin", "the flashing black eyes" to "the flashing eyes", "their skins were burnt brown by the sun" to "their skins were burnt by the sun", "white as a sheet" to "still as a statue", and removing "His skin was reddish-brown"), changing "mother and father" to "parents" and "boys and girls" to "children", and changing "Esquimo" to "Inuit", "Sultan of Baghdad" to "Mayor of Baghdad", and "man-eating giants" to "human-eating giants".[14][15]

Original text 2023 text[15]
Inside the jar, just below the edge of the label, Sophie could see the putting-to-sleep dream lying peacefully on the bottom, pulsing gently, sea-green like the other one, but perhaps a trifle larger.

'Do you have separate dreams for boys and for girls?' Sophie asked.

'Of course,' the BFG said. 'If I is giving a girl's dream to a boy, even if it was a really whoppsy girl's dream, the boy would be waking up and thinking what a rotbungling grinksludging old dream that was.'

'Boys would,' Sophie said.

'These here is all the girls' dreams on this shelf,' the BFG said.

'Can I read a boy's dream?'

Inside the jar, just below the edge of the label, Sophie could see the putting-to-sleep dream lying peacefully on the bottom, pulsing gently, sea-green like the other one, but perhaps a trifle larger.

'Can I read more dreams?'

References in other Roald Dahl books

The BFG first appears as a story told to Danny by his father in Danny, the Champion of the World. The ending is almost the same as James and the Giant Peach, when he writes a story about himself, by himself. Also, Mr. Tibbs relates to Mrs. Tibbs, the friend of Mr. Gilligrass, the U.S. president in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

Awards and recognition

The BFG has won numerous awards including the 1985 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis as the year's best children's book, in its German translation Sophiechen und der Riese[16] and the 1991 Read Alone and Read Aloud BILBY Awards from the Children's Book Council of Australia.[17]

In 2003 it was ranked number 56 in The Big Read, a two-stage survey of the British public by the BBC to determine the "Nation's Best-loved Novel".[4] The U.S. National Education Association listed The BFG among the "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children" based on a 2007 online poll.[18] In 2012, it was ranked number 88 among all-time children's novels in a survey published by School Library Journal, a monthly with primarily U.S. audience. It was the fourth of four books by Dahl among the Top 100, more than any other writer.[5] In 2023, the novel was ranked by BBC at no. 41 in their poll of "The 100 greatest children's books of all time".[19]



Selected translations



Comic strip

Between 1986 and 1998, the novel was adapted into a newspaper comic by journalist Brian Lee and artist Bill Asprey. It was published in the Mail on Sunday and originally a straight adaptation, with scripts accepted by Roald Dahl himself. After a while the comic started following its own storylines and continued long after Dahl's death in 1990.[37]

Stage play

The play was adapted for the stage by David Wood and premiered at the Wimbledon Theatre in 1991.[38]


1989 film

Main article: The BFG (1989 film)

On 25 December 1989, ITV broadcast an animated film based on the book and produced by Cosgrove Hall Films on television, with David Jason providing the voice of the BFG and Amanda Root as the voice of Sophie. The film was dedicated to animator George Jackson who worked on numerous Cosgrove Hall productions.

2016 film

Main article: The BFG (2016 film)

A theatrical live-action film adaptation was produced by Walt Disney Pictures, directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Mark Rylance as the BFG, as well as Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, and Bill Hader. The film was released on 1 July 2016, to positive critical reception. However, the film was financially unsuccessful.

TV series

A TV series based on The BFG is being developed as part of Netflix's "animated series event", based on Roald Dahl's books.[39]


  1. ^ Singh, Anita (7 August 2010) "Roald Dahl's secret notebook reveals heartbreak over daughter's death". The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  2. ^ "Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company presents The BFG". Archived from the original on 28 March 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Whizzpoppingly wonderful fun in Watford!". BBC. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b "BBC – The Big Read". BBC. April 2003. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  5. ^ a b Bird, Elizabeth (7 July 2012). "Top 100 Chapter Book Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal ( Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  6. ^ Flood, Alison (9 January 2012). "Roald Dahl stamps honour classic children's author". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  7. ^ "Five things you never knew about the bfg". The Roald Dahl Story Company Limited. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  8. ^ Sawer, Patrick (25 February 2023). "Roald Dahl warned 'politically correct' publishers – 'change one word and deal with my crocodile'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  9. ^ a b c d e Blair, Elizabeth (24 February 2023). "Roald Dahl's publisher responds to backlash by keeping 'classic' texts in print". NPR. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  10. ^ a b Dellatto, Marisa (20 February 2023). "Roald Dahl Books Get New Edits—And Critics Cry Censorship: The Controversy Surrounding 'Charlie And The Chocolate Factory' And More". Forbes. Jersey City, New Jersey, USA. ISSN 0015-6914. Archived from the original on 28 February 2023. Retrieved 27 February 2023.
  11. ^ a b Murdock, Hannah (21 February 2023). "Authors react to 'absurd' changes to Roald Dahl's children's books to make them less offensive". Deseret News. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  12. ^ Lawless, Jill (24 February 2023). "Penguin to publish 'classic' Roald Dahl books after backlash". Associated Press. New York City, NY, USA. Archived from the original on 28 February 2023.
  13. ^ a b Honeycombe-Foster, Matt; Blanchard, Jack (21 February 2023). "UK's Badenoch slams 'problematic' rewrites of classic Roald Dahl books". Politico. Arlington County, Virginia, USA: Axel Springer SE. Archived from the original on 28 February 2023. Retrieved 27 February 2023.
  14. ^ Kirka, Danica. "Critics reject changes to Roald Dahl books as censorship". abc NEWS. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  15. ^ a b Cumming, Ed; Buchanan, Abigail; Holl-Allen, Genevieve; Smith, Benedict (24 February 2023). "The Writing of Roald Dahl". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 March 2023.
  16. ^ "Sophiechen und der Riese" (in German). Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis. 1985. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  17. ^ "Previous Winners of the BILBY Awards: 1990 – 96" (PDF). The Children's Book Council of Australia Queensland Branch. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 November 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  18. ^ National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  19. ^ "The 100 greatest children's books of all time". 23 May 2023.
  20. ^ Dahl, Roald (1983). De GVR (in Dutch). Translated by Huberte Vriesendorp. Utrecht: De Fontein. OCLC 276717619.
  21. ^ Dahl, Roald (1984). The BFG. Barcelona: Planeta. OCLC 23998903.
  22. ^ Dahl, Roald (1984). Sophiechen und der Riese (in German). Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt. OCLC 12736090.
  23. ^ Dahl, Roald (1984). Le bon gros géant: le BGG (in French). Paris: Gallimard. OCLC 462016766.
  24. ^ Dahl, Roald (1985). オ・ヤサシ巨人BFG (in Japanese). Translated by Taeko Nakamura. Tokyo: Hyoronsha. OCLC 674384354.
  25. ^ Dahl, Roald (1987). Il GGG (in Italian). Firenze: Salani. OCLC 797126304.
  26. ^ Dahl, Roald (1993). Die GSR: die groot sagmoedige reus (in Afrikaans). Translated by Mavis De Villiers. [Kaapstad]: Tafelberg. OCLC 85935030. Originally published by Jonathan Cape Ltd. as: The BFG
  27. ^ Dahl, Roald (1997). 내 친구 꼬마 거인 (in Korean). Translated by Hye-yŏn Chi. Ch'op'an. OCLC 936576155.
  28. ^ Dahl, Roald. Gjiganti i madh i mirë (in Albanian). Translated by Naum Prifti. Çabej: Tiranë. OCLC 472785476.
  29. ^ Dahl, Roald (2000). 好心眼儿巨人 (in Chinese). Translated by Rong Rong Ren. Jinan: Ming tian Chu ban she.
  30. ^ Dahl, Roald (2003). Yr CMM: yr èc èm èm (in Welsh). Hengoed: Rily. OCLC 55150213.
  31. ^ Dahl, Roald (2005). Uriașul cel príetenos (in Romanian). Translated by Mădălina Monica Badea. Bucharest: RAO International. OCLC 63542578.
  32. ^ Dahl, Roald (2016). BFG (in Polish). Translated by Katarzyna Szczepańska-Kowalczuk. Kraków: Społeczny Instytut Wydawniczy Znak. OCLC 956576565.
  33. ^ Dahl, Roald (2016). De GFR (in Western Frisian). Translated by Martsje de Jong. Groningen: Utjouwerij Regaad. OCLC 1020314790.
  34. ^ "The BFG - BBC Radio 5". BBC Programme Index. Retrieved 12 December 2023.
  35. ^ "The BFG (Dahl Audio) Audio CD read by Natasha Richardson". Retrieved 12 December 2023.
  36. ^ "The BFG (Dahl Audio) Audio CD read by David Walliams". Retrieved 12 December 2023.
  37. ^ "Bill Asprey".
  38. ^ "The BFG (Big Friendly Giant)". Samuel French. Retrieved 26 October 2015.