Five Tricksy Twits Facts

Posted by
Roald Dahl HQ
Posted on
12:30pm, 2nd May
The Twits
Mr and Mrs Twit, from Roald Dahl's The Twits, illustrated by Sir Quentin Blake

We're joining in the fiery celebrations for share-a-story-month in the UK! Do you know all about these two old dragons, The Twits?

Every May, book groups across the UK celebrate the power of stories and storytelling with an extravaganza of exciting events.

This year's National Share-a-Story-Month theme is DRAGONS. Yes, that's right, DRAGONS. How fantastic is that?

Whilst there may not be many actual dragons in Roald Dahl's stories (although, of course, Roald Dahl was born in Wales, with its iconic flag), this is a good time to reintroduce a couple of horrible dragon-like people - Mr and Mrs Twit - and to share a few fascinating facts about this tricksy story...

1.The Twits is the most-read book in UK primary schools 

First published in 1980, those Twits are still going strong 35 years later. In 2015, Renaissance Learning's annual survey revealed it was the most-read book in UK primary schools. And just imagine Mr Twit's beard after 35 years...

2. The Twits was another of Roald Dahl's stories to start life as a scribble in an exercise book

Roald Dahl kept what he called his Ideas Books beside him for much of his adult life. They were old school exercise books, and he would write down ideas as they occurred to him. The Ideas Book reference for The Twits was:

Beer stealing. An old boy dropped his glass eye into the tankard. He then saw it looking up at him.

3. The Twits was also partially inspired by Roald Dahl's hatred of beards

It's a relatively well-known fact that Roald Dahl himself couldn't stand beards. He thought they were disgusting. Michael Rosen - writer of the biography Fantastic Mr Dahl - tells how, the first time he met Roald Dahl, Roald said to his young son Joe:

It’s probably got this morning’s breakfast in it. And last night’s dinner. And old bits of rubbish, any old stuff that he’s come across. You might even find a bicycle wheel in it.

4. The Roly Poly Bird and Muggle-Wump and his family also appear in The Enormous Crocodile

Those nasty Twits eventually get their comeuppance when the Roly-Poly Bird and Muggle-Wump and his family band together - but this isn't the first time those two characters had appeared in a story together. In The Enormous Crocodile, which was published two years earlier in 1978, both the Roly Poly Bird and Muggle-Wump try to stop the Crocodile getting hold of his favourite lunchtime snack - some juicy children...

5. The Twits is home to one of Roald Dahl's most famous quotes

Despite it featuring two of his most horrible characters, The Twits features this lovely quote: 

If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets so ugly you can hardly bear to look at it.

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.

Twits reading for Share-a-Story-Month