NEW YORK, NY – Legendary British mystery author Agatha Christie, known for creating such iconic and enduringly popular sleuths such as Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, is the latest classic author – along with children’s scribe Roald Dahl and James Bond creator Ian Fleming, among others – who has found their works posthumously censored to remove language and descriptions of individuals that may be considered “offensive” by modern standards.
Christie’s publisher, HarperCollins, has released new editions of the Poirot and Marple mysteries that contain numerous edits and omissions from the original text, including changing the word “native” to “local” and removing blatant racial slurs, such as the terms “Oriental” and the “N-word.”
Other changes include removing racially stereotypical descriptions of Black, Jewish, and Gypsy characters – For example, in 1937’s “Death on the Nile,” the phrase “the Nubian boatman” has been changed to simply “the boatman” and a description of children that read as “their eyes are simply disgusting, and so are their noses” has been removed outright. Other examples include references to a hotel worker having “lovely white teeth” being removed from the 1964 novel “A Caribbean Mystery.”
Numerous classic authors such as Christie, Dahl, Dr. Seuss, and Fleming have found their works increasingly on the chopping block by modern editors who are looking to focus on diversity, inclusion and acceptance, with many critics crying foul and maintaining that the practice is little more than blatant censorship.
Among the plethora of changes to Dahl’s books include the character Augustus Gloop from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” being described as “enormous” instead of “enormously fat,” Mrs. Twit from “The Twits” now being “beastly” instead of “ugly and beastly,” in “The BFG,” the word “black” is now consistently replaced by “dark,” and in “Matilda” “mothers and fathers” has become “parents.”