Characters named after electronic device addiction and sexually transmitted diseases

Years ago, I was reading CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY to my students. It was the third year that I had read the book to one of my classes, and having grown bored with it, I decided to take liberties with the story, adding in three children that did not exist in the original text. I would hold the book in front of me, occasionally turning the pages, pretending to read, and instead I would describe the antics of three additional brats who the factory eventually consumed. I don’t remember all the details of my addition, but I know that one character was a girl named Petunia Pettigrew who possessed an unfettered love for designer clothing. She eventually received her comeuppance when her Burberry scarf became entangled in the Gumdrop Flavorizer.

Not the greatest story line, I admit, but at least I didn’t give the kid a name like Mike Teavee, the child from the real story who loves (surprise!) television. While I have always loved Dahl’s books, this particular choice of name (Mike Teavee) has always seemed especially stupid to me.

And it turns out that my instinct for additional characters wasn’t far off. In the original, handwritten manuscript, Dahl’s story contained five additional kids, including one named Herpes. This tidbit, along with many others, appears in an article in which his widow discusses her husband and his life.

Herpes? The guy apparently struggled with naming characters, though I have always adored the name Charlie Bucket.


Two minutes after posting about Herpes, a deleted character from Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, I was told by my buddy, Shep, that Veruca Salt (another character from the book) was named after averruca, a wart caused by the HPV virus, and one that can be transmitted sexually.

That sly devil.  The publisher may have edited out Herpes, but Dahl managed to squeeze in a different sexually transmitted disease in his place.

Talk about commitment to an idea.