Matilda at 30: Roald Dahl’s Heroine Stands up to Trump

To mark the 30th anniversary, a statue of Roald Dahl’s beloved fictional character, Matilda Wormwood, has been unveiled facing the man voted the person she would be most likely to stand up to in 2018, President Donald Trump.

Inspired by Matilda’s courage and the battle she picks with Miss Trunchbull in the novel, the Roald Dahl Story Company gave the general public the chance to decide who they thought she would be taking a stand against in 2018. Topping that list was American President Donald Trump (42%), and the statue installation has brought to life the public’s choice.

The statues, celebrating the landmark anniversary, can be seen for a few weeks in the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire – where Roald Dahl lived for 36 years of his life. Both statues are positioned in the fields outside the town’s library, the real-life inspiration for Mrs Phelps’ library, where Matilda devours the classics of literature by the age of four and three months. The statues of Matilda and Donald Trump are modern day interpretations of both Matilda and Trump created by a team of artists including Drew Roper, a Birmingham based animation entrepreneur.

As well as revealing who Matilda would be standing up to in 2018, the study found that over half of the British public think that Matilda would still have her powers of telekinesis (56%), have travelled the world (53%) and have been knighted by the Queen (29%).

According to the British public, she’d also have an illustrious social circle too – including friends like actress and activist, Emma Watson (24%), Duchess of Sussex and humanitarian, Meghan Markle (14%), and singer Ed Sheeran (9%). Brits also thought she would live in London (22%) with an ambition to open up her own school (24%) and tackle social issues such as children’s welfare (35%) and bullying (32%).

Over a quarter (28%) of the general public imagine Miss Trunchbull would now be a prison warden, followed by a drill sergeant (17%). Bruce Bogtrotter – the boy who devoured a whole cake as instructed by Miss Trunchbull – was voted likely to become a Great British Bake Off contestant (18%), closely followed by Michelin star chef (16%) and health blogger (11%).

The national research goes on to predict that Matilda’s best friend would still be Lavender (58%), whilst over a third (37%) of us like to imagine Matilda as having reconnected with her absent family since the book’s conclusion.

Bernie Hall, from The Roald Dahl Story Company, commented: “Matilda demonstrates that it’s possible for anyone, no matter how small and powerless they feel, to defeat the Trunchbulls in their own lives – a message that feels even more relevant today than it did 30 years ago. What’s more, asking the public to reimagine Matilda 30 years on and finding that she could be a UN ambassador, knighted by the Queen and still using her powers of telekinesis shows just how strongly Roald Dahl’s tiny heroine continues to resonate in our hearts and minds.”

 Susie Dent, lexicographer and Matilda fan, commented: “It’s not surprising to hear that Donald Trump has been voted the figure she would be most likely to stand up to in 2018 – many clearly see in him some similar traits to the fictional headmistress, Miss Trunchbull.”

Matilda’s original illustrator Sir Quentin Blake has contributed to the 30th Anniversary celebrations, by creating 8 brand NEW drawings of Matilda. Each piece imagines her in her thirties working in an exciting role – inspired by the original story – such as wrestling, astrophysics and Hollywood SFX, and contribute to the debate about who Matilda would be and what her life would be like in 2018. Three of Sir Quentin’s images feature on special 30thbirthday editions of MATILDA, published by Penguin Random House on October 4th.

Who would Matilda be in 2018? What would she be doing? Who would she be standing up to? Have your say and join the debate using the hashtag, #Matilda30.

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