"'That idiot Amanda,' Hortensia said, 'has let her long hair grow even longer during the hols and her mother has plaited it into pigtails. Silly thing to do.'"- Matilda
If there is one thing Miss Trunchbull - headmistress of Crunchem Hall - can't stand, it's pigtails.
As Hortensia implies to Matilda and Lavender, Amanda Thripp should know this. But her mummy likes pigtails, so Amanda allows her to plait them. It's not Amanda's mother that has to face the wrath of the Olympic standard hammer-throwing pigtail-hating headmistress though... Poor old Amanda.
Amanda Thripp appears in Roald Dahl's original 1988 story, Matilda, as well as the 1996 film adaptation, played by an actress named Jacqueline Steiger. The character also appears in the RSC's musical adaptation of Matilda.
"The picture showed a nine-year-old boy who was so enormously fat he looked as though he had been blown up with a powerful pump." - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Augustus Gloop ("The great big greedy nincompoop!" as the Oompa-Loompas sing later) appears in Roald Dahl's story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which has since been adapted into two films, an opera and a West End musical.
Augustus is a young boy who enjoys eating. His mother, Mrs Gloop, tells us he eats so much chocolate it would have been impossible for him not to find one of the Golden Tickets hidden in Willy Wonka's chocolate bars, and so win a trip to the Chocolate Factory.
In the original story Roald Dahl doesn't tell us where Augustus is from, but in the 1971 film he hails from the fictional town of Dusselheim. In the 2005 film, he's from Düsseldorf, and in the 2013 West End musical production he is from Bavaria. All of these places are in Germany, so most of us think of Augustus as being German.
One thing for certain, though, is that Augustus is a greedy boy. Once inside Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory he's so keen to get started that he won't listen to what Mr Wonka says and very nearly meets a very sticky end in that chocolate river. Luckily, the Oompa-Loompas are on hand to divert Augustus from the fudge room, but it's close...
On film, Augustus has been portrayed by actors Michael Bollner (1971) and Philip Wiegratz (2005).
"I have always longed and longed to own a sweet-shop... Oh boy, what I couldn't have done with that old Grubber shop if it had been mine!" - The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
Billy is the 'Me' in Roald Dahl's 1985 story The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me - well, we think he is, but the other Very Important member of the Ladderless Window-Cleaning Company not mentioned in the book's title is the Monkey.
Whatever the details, Billy is very definitely one of the gang. A friendly and inquisitive boy with a love of confectionary, an admiration for Mr Willy Wonka and an ability to remain unfazed even in the presence of fearsome burglars, Billy's greatest wish is to own his own sweet shop, or 'Grubber.'
When he meets the Giraffe, Pelican and Monkey shortly after they've taken over the premises of a former sweet-shop near his house, little does he know this dream might not be so far out of reach, thanks to his quick-thinking friends and the very rich Duke of Hampshire...
"An eleven-year-old boy who was decidedly large and round stood up and waddled briskly forward. He climbed up onto the platform."- Matilda
Bruce Bogtrotter is the criminal-turned-chocolate-cake-conquering hero of Roald Dahl's Matilda. He attends the same school as Matilda - Crunchem Hall. In the original story, he is six years older than her, although in the RSC's Matilda The Musical they are nearer the same age.
Bruce's crime is to eat a slice of horrible headmistress Miss Trunchbull's chocolate cake. He thinks he's got away with it, but the Trunchbull is not one to take such insolence lightly. She devises a very particular punishment for this slightly greedy young boy - and the whole school are invited to watch...
Matilda was also adapted for the cinema in 1996. Jimmy Karz played Bruce in the film version.
"Things happened to me that will probably make you scream when you read about them. That can't be helped. The truth must be told." - The Witches
Like his Grandmother, the young male narrator of Roald Dahl's 1983 story The Witches doesn't have a name, although in the later film adaptation he was called Luke. His mice have names though - William and Mary, which is itself the title of a short story in the Kiss Kiss collection, first published in 1960.
Like many of Roald Dahl's young heroes and heroines, he is resilient, resourceful and, above all, brave. His reaction when he discovers The Grand High Witch's terrible plan against the children of England is to do all he can to stop them - even after he gets some first-hand experience of Formula 86 Delayed Action Mouse-Maker...
In the 1990 film adaptation, "Luke" was played by Jasen Fisher. The film also differed from the book in that the ending was changed - in Roald Dahl's original story, The Grand High Witch's spell was never reversed, leaving The Boy to live out his days as a mouse, telling his Grandmother: "It doesn't matter who you are or what you look like so long as somebody loves you."
In the film, however, the ending was amended so that Luke turns back into a boy.
"This is Charlie. How d'you do? And how d'you do? And how d'you do again? He is pleased to meet you." - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie Bucket appears in two of Roald Dahl's stories: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - which has been adapted into two films, an opera and a stage musical - and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
Charlie lives with his mother, his father and his four grandparents in a little wooden house near a great town. Well, he does the first time we meet him, anyway.
Charlie and his family don't have much money. That means they don't have much to eat. Which makes the fact that there is a great big Chocolate Factory in his very own town all the more difficult for poor Charlie. Because more than anything else, Charlie loves chocolate - Wonka chocolate especially. His very favourite is the Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight bar. You could even say this is his lucky bar. It is, after all, the bar that changes Charlie's life...
When he finds a Golden Ticket in that Wonka chocolate bar, Charlie's luck starts to change. From touring Mr Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory to bursting through its roof in the Great Glass Elevator, that little flash of gold is only the beginning of his adventures. Mr Wonka personally escorts him round his chocolate factory - then appoints him as his successor. He visits outer space with his entire family - and ends up outsmarting some very unpleasant Vermicious Knids. He witnesses his old grandparents return all the way to babyhood after some ill-advised experiments with Wonka Vite. Then, to top it all off, he gets invited to dinner at the White House.
And yet throughout all of his adventures, little Charlie keeps his cool. He really is, as Grandpa George says in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, "a fine little fellow."
On the big screen, the role of Charlie has been played by Peter Ostrum (in 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) and Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 2005.)
"When I was four months old, my mother died suddenly and my father was left to look after me all by himself." - Danny, the Champion of the World
Danny is the title character in Roald Dahl's 1975 book, Danny, the Champion of the World. He's also the narrator of the story, which follows the adventures and incidents of his young life living in a gipsy caravan next to the filling station where his beloved father works.
Outside of school (where he has to deal with the terrifying Captain Lancaster and "the dreaded cane"), Danny has a happy life. He helps his Dad in the filling station, listens to his amazing bedtime stories at night (including tales of The Big Friendly Giant) and even offers a valuable helping hand with his father's poaching exploits, coming up with the idea that eventually costs Victor Hazell a few hundred pheasants.
So he's resourceful - and brave, too. Not only does he dream up this great pheasant-catching idea, he also helps his Dad carry it out. And, when his father is caught in one of Victor Hazell's traps for poachers, Danny is quick to notice his absence and shoots off to the rescue in a Baby Austin (don't try that at home...)
Of all his stories, Danny, the Champion of the World is one of Roald Dahl's most autobiographical and is said to have been one of his favourites. The scenes where Danny is at school are echoed in Boy, Roald's later memoir about his own schooldays, and the area where Danny and his father live is based on Great Missenden, where Roald lived with his own family.
In 1989, a film adaptation of the story was released starring Samuel Irons as Danny. His father, Jeremy Irons, played Danny's Dad William.
"It doesn't seem right to me that men and boys should kill animals just for the fun they get out of it." - The Magic Finger
The Magic Finger was published in 1962, four years after Roald Dahl finished writing it. It's narrated by an eight-year-old girl with a very special power. She hates hunting, and she hates injustice, and anyone who is guilty of either of these things should watch out...
Her next-door neighbours The Greggs find this out to their cost one day when The Girl sees them out hunting and they make the mistake of laughing off her angry protests.
They're not laughing later, when The Girl puts The Magic Finger on them...
Because whenever The Girls gets cross, she gets very, very hot all over and the tip of her forefinger of her right hand begins to tingle, and suddenly a flash comes out like something electric.
The Greggs soon learn their lesson.
"He may have been only eight years old but he was a brave little boy. He was going to take this old woman on." - George's Marvellous Medicine
George is the only son of Mr and Mrs Kranky. He lives at home on a farm with his parents and his mother's own mother - miserable old Grandma, who orders George around and scares him with terrifying tall tales as soon as his Mum and Dad are out of the house.
Such a terror is George's Grandma that one day, when he's been left at home and instructed to give her her eleven o'clock medicine, he decides to conduct a little experiment.
"I'll make her a magic medicine, a medicine no doctor in the world has ever made before," he thinks.
And that's just what he does.
He's resourceful, is George, and experimental too. He wonders from room to room inspecting and collecting his medicinal ingredients and when eleven o'clock finally comes - well, Grandma doesn't quite know what's hit her.
And George? Well, George's experimental medicines leave him feeling he has touched the "edge of a magic world..."
"'The Chokey,' Hortensia went on, 'is a very tall but very narrow cupboard. The floor is only ten inches square so you can't sit down or squat in it. You have to stand.'" - Matilda
Hortensia is the battle-hardened ten-year-old who teaches Matilda Wormwood and her friend Lavender what their headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, is really about. "Welcome to borstal," she says to them in the Crunchem Hall playground.
Hortensia is well versed in the art of Trunchbull-baiting - or at least, that's what she tells Matilda and Lavender. After explaining what The Chokey is, she goes on to tell them about the many times she's found herself imprisoned inside it. Like after the time she poured Golden Syrup onto the Trunchbull's chair. Or the time she put itching powder in her gym knickers.
Matilda and Lavender are "enthralled" by Hortensia. "It's like a war," Matilda says, after hearing her tales of life at Crunchem.
Actress Kira Spencer Hesser played Hortensia in the 1996 film adaptation of Matilda.
"After James Henry Trotter had been living with his aunts for three whole years there came a morning when something rather peculiar happened to him." - James and the Giant Peach
James Henry Trotter is the lead character in Roald Dahl's first well-known children's book, James and the Giant Peach, which was first published in 1961. Since then the story has been adapted as an animated film in 1996, and as a children's play by David Wood.
When we first meet him, James is a lonely boy living with his two aunts "in a queer ramshackle house on the top of a high hill in the south of England." This is because, right at the beginning of the story, poor James is orphaned when his parents are killed by an angry rhinoceros.
His aunts are horrible. They make James do all the cleaning and never let him away from the house to meet other children or make friends.
But James's luck starts to change when he meets a mysterious old man who hands him a magical gift that will change his life - and introduce James to some of the most unusual friends a young boy could ever have...
In the 1996 film version of James and the Giant Peach, James was voiced by actor Paul Terry.
"Lavender was exceptionally small for her age, a skinny little nymph with deep-brown eyes and with dark hair that was cut in a fringe across her forehead."- Matilda
Lavender is Matilda Wormwood's best friend. Described as "gutsy and adventurous," she is just as enthralled by Hortensia's Trunchbull horror stories as Matilda, and later on she devises her own way to cause that terrible headmistress of theirs a few troubles. It involves a glass of water and a slippery creature...
In the1996 film adaptation of Matilda, Lavender was played by Kiami Davael. The character also appears in the RSC's Matilda The Musical, now playing in London's West End, on Broadway and in Australia.
"Little Billy's mother was always telling him exactly what he was allowed to do and what he was not allowed to do." - The Minpins
When we first meet him at the beginning of The Minpins, Little Billy is bored. His mother has stopped him going out to play and most especially going to visit The Forest of Sin. But Little Billy is a resourceful boy and he sneaks out when his mother's not watching, ignoring her warnings about The Spittler and those terrible Vermicious Knids.
There is no Spittler but in the forest, Little Billy does indeed come across some ferocious beasts. He also meets The Minpins - tiny human-like creatures who live in the trees - and that resourcefulness comes in very handy when he needs to get home, past the dreaded Gruncher...
"She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village."- Matilda
Matilda Wormwood is the clever, brave, book-loving girl who gives her name to one of Roald Dahl's last published stories: Matilda.
So clever is Matilda that by the age of four, she has read all the children's books in her local library. By the time she begins school aged five she has graduated to Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling. What's more, she can multiply large numbers with no trouble and can compose and recite limericks with barely a breath. Her schoolteacher Miss Honey thinks she's a genius.
Unfortunately, her parents aren't so impressed. Mr and Mrs Wormwood completely fail to appreciate her incredible abilities - but luckily for Matilda, this also means they never fail to fall for her tricks...
Because as well as being very clever, Matilda is no stranger to a spot of mischief. From supergluing hats to hiding a parrot up a chimney, she makes her hapless parents pay for their indifference and stupidity in a number of subtle ways.
It's headmistress Miss Trunchbull she saves her greatest trick for, though...
Matilda ultimately uses her incredible powers to help Miss Honey, but in earlier drafts of the story she was actually a "wicked" girl who terrorised her parents and teachers. Roald soon realised this wasn't right, though, and the Matilda we all know and love first appeared in print in 1988.
Since its first publication, Matilda has been adapted into a cult 1996 film, with Mara Wilson playing Miss Wormwood. And in 2010, the Royal Shakespeare Company's musical adaptation of the book with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin opened at Stratford-upon-Avon. A phenomenal success, the musical went on to open in London's West End the following year, on Broadway in 2013, and is set to take Australia by storm in 2015.
As Matilda herself sings in the musical adaptation - "sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty."
"Mike Teavee himself had no less than eighteen toy pistols of various sizes hanging from belts around his body, and every now and again he would leap up into the air and fire off half a dozen rounds from one or another of these weapons." - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The fourth finder of Willy Wonka's Golden Tickets is Mike Teavee, a television-loving boy who appears in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. First released in 1964, the story has been adapted for two films, an opera and a stage musical.
In the original story, Roald doesn't tell us where Mike is from but - just like with Violet Beauregarde - most adaptations have presented him as an American. In the 1971 film he is from Marble Falls, Arizona; in the 2005 film he is from Denver, Colorado; and in the 2013 West End musical he is from an unnamed town in suburban America.
Mike is obsessed with TV and gadgets and is far less keen on people. In the original story and the 1971 film, he watches a lot of television, particularly shows involving gangsters shooting each other. In the 2005 film and 2013 musical it is video games that are his entertainment of choice. In all versions, it is his dependence on the small screen that ultimately proves his downfall. Like the other children before him, he ignores Mr Wonka's warnings and attempts to send himself by television - a big move that leads to a rather smaller result than he might have expected...
On film, Mike Teavee has been played by Paris Themmen (1971) and Jordan Fry (2005).
"No one is going to be worrying too much about me. That place you took me from was the village orphanage. We are all orphans in there." -Sophie, The BFG
Sophie appears in Roald Dahl's much-loved story, The BFG, first published in 1982. She is "kidsnatched" from her bedroom at the orphanage where she lives by The Big Friendly Giant (or The BFG, for short) after spotting him through her window one night.
Sophie may be, as The BFG says, "only a tiny little girl," but she is resiliant and very brave. Having been taken from her home in the middle of the witching hour, she finds herself journeying to Giant Country clutched in the palm of The BFG's hand. Once there - and having realised The BFG is not going to eat her - she quickly takes stock of her surroundings and it's not long before she is eating foulsome snozzcumbers and drinking jumbly frobscottle with her new friend.
And it's Sophie who comes up with the bright idea to stop The BFG's horrible neighbours - Fleshlumpeater, The Bloodbottler, and all the other nasty Giants who would rather gobble human 'beans' than snozzcumbers. After joining The BFG on a trip to dream country, she sees a way for The BFG's incredible dream collection to help them stop the Giants from eating up any more people...
The BFG was adapted for a UK TV film in 1989, with Amanda Root voicing the character of Sophie. A new film adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg is scheduled for release in 2016. Sophie does not have a last name in the original story.
"The lucky person was a small girl called Veruca Salt who lived with her rich parents in a great city far away." - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Veruca Salt ("the little brute," as the Oompa-Loompas call her) is the second finder of one of chocolatier Willy Wonka's Golden Tickets, joining Charlie Bucket and the other finders on a tour of Mr Wonka's Chocolate Factory. She appears in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Written in 1964, the book has been adapted for two feature films, an opera and as a West End musical.
Veruca is an only child whose parents spoil her excessively. She only receives her Golden Ticket after the workers at her father's peanut factory are commanded to start shelling chocolate bars instead of peanuts. And, as Charlie Bucket's Grandpa Joe says, "no good can ever come from spoiling a child like that, Charlie, you mark my words.”
Grandpa Joe is proved right during their tour of the Chocolate Factory when Veruca Salt and her parents are forced to evacuate in a rather unpleasant manner - after Mr Wonka's trained squirrels decide they're all Bad Nuts and send them down the rubbish chute.
In the original story and the 2013 West End adaptation, both of Veruca's parents join her in the Factory, but in the 1971 and 2005 films it is only her father that acts as her supervisor. And in the 1971 film, the trained squirrels are replaced by geese that lay special golden eggs, meaning Veruca's trip down the rubbish chute is because she is a Bad Egg.
On film, Veruca has been played by Julie Dawn Cole (1971) and Julia Winter (2005).
"'I'm a gum chewer, normally,' she shouted, 'but when I heard about these ticket things of Mr Wonka's, I gave up gum and started on chocolate bars in the hope of striking lucky.'" - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Champion gum-chewer Violet Beauregarde appears in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which has been adapted for two feature films, an opera and a West End musical.
In Roald's original story we don't learn Violet's nationality, but in the majority of adaptations she is American: from Miles City, Montana in the 1971 film; from Atlanta, Georgia in the 2005 movie; and from Hollywood in the 2013 West End musical production directed by Sam Mendes.
In all versions of the story, Violet is the third person to find one of Willy Wonka's Golden Tickets and secure a visit to his magical Chocolate Factory. She's a competitive and determined child who takes great pride in her record-breaking gum-chewing abilities.
But her excessive gum habit leads her into trouble inside the Chocolate Factory. As soon as she sees The Great Gum Machine, so keen is she to be the first person in the world to try a full chewing-gum meal that she refuses to listen to any of Mr Wonka's warnings. And that, as the Oompa-Loompas might tell us, is not a very wise decision...
On film, Violet has been played by Denise Nickerson (1971) and AnnaSophia Robb (2005).