Rachel White, archivist at the Roald Dahl Museum, takes us on a trip to the Warming Candy Room from Mr Wonka's Chocolate Factory
The early drafts of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - a story that had been whirring away in Roald Dahl's Ideas Book since he was at school - are one of the highlights of the Roald Dahl Archive, which is housed at the Museum in Great Missenden, Bucks, UK.
In the third and final installment of our blog series, archivist Rachel White takes us further into the previously unpublished chapter - 'The Warming Candy Room'...
'Perhaps more than any of the published chapters, 'The Warming Candy Room' demonstrates Roald Dahl’s fascination with invention – not just creatively and imaginatively but in practical terms.
As the remaining five children enter the Warming Candy Room, the reader is given the impression of the engine room of a giant ship – Roald Dahl describes pistons and turbines, pressure gauges and dials, with the centre-piece of a boiler with white hot jets of flame.
Willy Wonka explains the theory of the Warming Candy and the process of making it, sounding something like a physics lesson. It’s even oddly plausible, so that the reader almost starts to believe in the concept of condensing heat into a tiny piece of candy, until the bubble is burst by one of the parents:
'“Cold heat?” cried one of the fathers… "There’s no such thing!"
"There is now I’ve invented it” said Mr Wonka proudly.'
This idea of invention and creativity was one of Roald Dahl’s frequent themes, and echoed his own interest in gadgets and imagination. He would write his children’s names on the lawn with weed killer to persuade them that fairies had visited. He would stretch his shoes by freezing them with plastic bags full of water which would swell when frozen. His Writing Hut, where he spent time every day constructing his stories, contained the chair and writing desk he had customised to be as comfortable and functional as possible. And perhaps most famously, his collaboration with his son’s neurosurgeon and a local toymaker to invent the Wade-Dahl-Till shunt, led to the creation of a tiny shunt that could be inserted into the skulls of children with hydrocephalus, resulting in thousands of children gaining a better quality of life.
In his stories, too, his characters are imaginative, curious and resourceful – Danny’s idea for the bait for the pheasants; George’s concoction for his horrible grandmother, Mr Hoppy’s plan for catching tortoises and even the Enormous Crocodile’s ‘secret plans and clever tricks’ all stem from Roald Dahl’s fascination with inventiveness, contraptions, ideas and the thought “What if…”
Back at the Warming Candy Room, then, the three naughty boys Clarence Crump, Bertie Upside and Terence Roper gobble down handfuls of the Warming Candy, with disastrous results. They are led off by the white-coated assistants and their "fluttering, fanning parents" to enormous refrigerators to cool down, and the tour of the Chocolate Factory, now down to two children – Charlie Bucket and Elvira Entwhistle (a prototype of Veruca Salt) – continues on to the Nut Room.
As with the other discarded chapter about the Vanilla Fudge Mountain, this was perhaps all too similar in style to what had gone before, with the combination of fantastic sights, badly behaved children and their ultimate comeuppance. As Roald Dahl reluctantly whittled children away in later drafts, the story gained momentum and focus, but this unused chapter serves to remind us of the strength and extent of his imagination.'
This month, as we celebrate both Roald Dahl Day and 50 years of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Vanity Fair publish 'The Warming Candy Room' for the very first time.
Read the chapter in full in the October issue of Vanity Fair, available now in the UK and USA, and find out what Roald's biographer Donald Sturrock said about those early drafts...