Front cover of an American first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from 1964.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is an award-winning children's fantasy novel of twenty-eight chapters by the British author Roald Dahl. It was first published in the United States in 1964 and first published in the United Kingdom in 1967.

The novel's protagonist is a very poor boy named Charlie Bucket. Due to his family's extreme poverty, he rarely gets to eat chocolate but he is fascinated by the chocolate factory in his town, owned by the eccentric and mysterious Willy Wonka. No visitors have been inside Willy Wonka's chocolate factory for years. Consequently, the anouncement that five Golden Tickets, each of which will allow one child and up to two accompanying adults to visit the factory, have been hidden in Wonka chocolate bars that have sent around the world, causes considerable excitement. Through amazing good luck, Charlie Bucket finds the last Golden Ticket. Due to their greed and general bad behavior, the other four children meet with accidents which force them to drop out of the factory tour. Willy Wonka then reveals his real purpose in sending out the Golden Tickets.

The inspiration for the novel can be traced back to Roald Dahl's childhood. The British chocolate manufacturer's Cadbury carried out market research by sending out free samples of their, as yet, unreleased products to the boarding school which Dahl atteneded and, in return, asked for the boys' opinions about the chocolates. This caused Dahl to fantasize about the people whose job it was to create new kinds of chocolate bars and about Mr. Cadbury, who would have to approve the new products.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been adapted for other media numerous times. It has been adapted for the cinema twice, as Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in 1971 and as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2005.

Dahl wrote a sequel to the novel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, which was published in 1972.


Charlie Bucket is a boy from an extremely poor family. He lives in a very small house with his parents and four grandparents. All four grandparents are completely bedridden but are forced to share the same bed. Charlie's father, who works at the toothpaste factory, is the family's sole breadwinner and conditions worsen when he loses his job.

Due to his family's extreme poverty, Charlie rarely gets to eat chocolate, even though he lives in the town where the world famous chocolate factory of Willy Wonka is located. Charlie loves to hear stories about the factory and its owner from his Grandpa Joe. Charlie learns that Willy Wonka was forced to close his factory after it was infiltrated by industrial spies who stole all his trade secrets. However, the factory suddenly reopened one day and has been in operation ever since, even though no workers have ever been seen entering or leaving the building. Willy Wonka now guards the secrets of his chocolate making by never allowing any visitors into his factory.

Sand Sculpture at Weston super Mare of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Anique Kuizenga

Sand sculpture which depicts Charlie Bucket, Willy Wonka, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt and Mike Teavee. Photographed in Weston super Mare, England on May 5, 2014.

One day, the Bucket family are surprised to read in the newspaper that Willy Wonka is allowing five children, who find his special Golden Tickets, and their parents to visit his factory. The five Golden Tickets have been placed beneath the wrappers of Wonka chocolate bars which have been sent around the world. Four tickets are found and the Bucket family read in the newspaper about the children who find them. They are a chocolate-loving glutton named Augustus Gloop, a champion gum chewer named Violet Beauregarde, a spoiled rich brat named Veruca Salt and a fan of violent television programs named Mike Teavee. From their descriptions in the newspaper, the Bucket family find each of the children disgusting.

After four tickets have been found, Charlie receives a Wonka chocolate bar for his birthday. He is disappointed to find that there is no Golden Ticket inside. Some time afterwards, Charlie finds a dollar bill[1] in the street. He uses the money to but two Wonka bars. The second bar contains the last Golden Ticket. On hearing the news, Charlie's Grandpa Joe leaps out of bed for the first time in years and asks Charlie to go with him to the factory.

At the beginning of the tour, the visitors learn that the factory is now entirely staffed by Ooompa Loompas, little people who live inside Wonka's factory and who are prepared to work for nothing but cocoa beans.[2]

One by one, the other four children meet with accidents which mean that they cannot continue the tour. Augustus Gloop falls into some liquid chocolate and is sucked up by a pipe. Violet Beauregarde chews a piece of experimental chewing gum which is supposed to taste like a three course meal. She refuses to follow Willy Wonka's advice and spit it out before she gets to the dessert part of the meal, blueberry pie, and begins to turn into a giant blueberry as a result. Veruca Salt notices a room full of squirrels, used by Willy Wonka to sort good nuts from bad nuts. When Wonka refuses to sell a squirrel to Veruca Salt's father, she enters the room to take one. The squirrels judge Veruca Salt to be a bad nut and throw her down the garbage chute. Upon discovering that Wonka has invented a device which will allow giant chocolate bars to be transmitted from a TV studio to people's television sets, where they will appear as solid, normal sized chocolate bars, Mike Teavee wants to try the device out on himself. As a result, he becomes only a few inches tall.

Noticing that Charlie Bucket is the only child left, Willy Wonka reveals that the reason he sent out the five Golden Tickets was to find an heir. He intended to leave his factory to the "least rotten" of the five children and that child is Charlie. Taking the Great Glass Elevator, Willy Wonka, Charlie and Grandpa Joe leave the factory and go to Charlie's house. Charlie's parents and grandparents are told that they can come to live at Wonka's factory and they will never be hungry again.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has received the following awards:

  • New England Round Table of Children's Librarians Award (1972, USA)
  • Surrey School Award (1976, UK)
  • Millenium Children's Book Award (2000, UK)
  • Blue Peter Book Award (2000, UK)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is included in the National Education Association's "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children"[3]



People dressed as Willy Wonka as he appears in the 1971 movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (on the left) and as he appears in the 2005 movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (on the right).

There have been two live-action film adaptations of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The 1971 movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was directed by Mel Stuart. It stars Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka and Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket. The 2005 movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was directed by Tim Burton. It stars Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka and Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket. Both films are reasonably faithful adaptations of the novel and both further flesh out the characters of Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde and Mike Teavee. The 2005 film adds to the backstory of Willy Wonka, making use of material from Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator in doing so.

The American animated musical comedy Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was released direct-to-video on June 27, 2017. It is an animated remake of the 1971 live-action movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The popular cat and mouse cartoon characters Tom and Jerry are added to the story. Charlie Bucket feels sorry for the hungry animals and takes them home with him. They in turn try to help him to obtain a golden ticket. The cartoon features the voices of JP Karliak as Willy Wonka and Lincoln Melcher as Charlie Bucket.

The novel has often been read aloud on children's television programs around the world and there have been numerous radio and stage adaptations, many of which have made use of songs from the 1971 movie.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; The Musical, a theatrical adaptation with all new songs, officially opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London's West End on June 25, 2013.

An opera based on the novel, The Golden Ticket, written by the American composer Peter Ash and the British librettist Donald Sturrock, was commissioned by the American Lyric Theater and approved by Roald Dahl's heirs. it premiered at the Opera Theatre of saint Louis on June 13, 2010.


  1. In recent British editions, Charlie finds a fifty pence piece instead of a dollar bill.
  2. In the first edition, the Ooompa Loompas were described as African pygmies. Dahl responded to criticism that depicting Africans as working for nothing but cocoa beans was racist by altering their description in the 1973 edition. From the 1973 edition onwards, the Oompa Loompas have been described as having rosy skin and long blond hair. Their homeland was also changed from Africa to the fictional Loompaland.
  3. Based on a 2007 online poll, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is ranked fifty-seventh in the list of "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children" on the National Education Association website.

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