To celebrate the book’s 50th anniversary, the Roald Dahl Museum is publishing a very special limited edition, in association with Penguin.
“On a hill above the valley there was a wood. In the wood there was a huge tree. Under the tree there was a hole. In the hole lived Mr Fox and Mrs Fox and their four Small Foxes.”
So begins the charming tale of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox, which was first published in 50 years ago in 1970.
Just 1000, individually numbered copies of the beautiful clothbound hardback edition will be printed (which you can pre-order here), and the new book will only be available from the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, based in the author’s home village of Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire.
Featuring illustrations by the inimitable Sir Quentin Blake, the new edition of Fantastic Mr Fox also includes exclusive extracts from archive manuscripts housed in the Museum.
Determined to feed his family, the intrepid and wily Mr Fox regularly steals from three local farmers, Boggis, Bunce and Bean. The brutish trio combine forces and determine to put an end to their foe’s nightly raids. Just when it looks like he and his family have run out of luck, Mr Fox devises a very cunning plan…
Since its original publication in 1970, the book has become a firm favourite with generations of young readers and their families, and was inspired by the Buckinghamshire countryside near Roald Dahl’s home. As a passionate lover of the outdoors, he would frequently walk in the woods that surround Great Missenden and it was here that he imagined the underground den of Mr Fox and his family.
In fact, it was a large, 150-year-old beech – known locally as ‘The Witches’ Tree’ – that sat on a lane near his house that inspired the famous opening to the story: “On a hill above the valley there was a wood. In the wood there was a huge tree. Under the tree there was a hole. In the hole lived Mr and Mrs Fox and their four Small Foxes.”
Above: view of the entrance to Angling Spring Wood, the inspiration for Fantastic Mr Fox. You can walk through these woods on the Museum's Countryside Trail.
“Fantastic Mr Fox is one of Roald’s best loved books and for the Museum to publish a special edition of a book so rooted in the landscape around it, half a century after the original publication, is magical. It’s wonderful to bring this version of the book to fans during its 50th anniversary year,” says Steve Gardam, Director of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.
This project is made more special because of the state of the world in which it is being published: the Covid pandemic has greatly challenged the Museum as a charity and visitor attraction. The Museum reopened after the first UK national lockdown but social distancing restricted capacity to less than 15% of their usual visitor numbers between September and the second lockdown in November. This has had a huge impact on earning the income the Museum needs to survive, which is why anyone buying this book is making a vital contribution to support the Museum in these difficult times, whilst receiving a wonderful gift that will be treasured for a lifetime.
The special edition version of Fantastic Mr Fox became a reality thanks to the generous support of the Roald Dahl Story Company, who donated the printing cost of the book to the Museum charity, meaning that 100% of the books’ sales will go towards maintaining the Museum and preserving Roald Dahl’s archive for everyone.
The book – which is priced £12 plus £3.95 postage - can be exclusively pre-ordered from 16 November. Pre-order your copy of Fantastic Mr Fox here. UK orders will be despatched in early December from the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre with delivery in time for Christmas.