Matilda by Roald Dahl: Quentin Blake's sketches and original artwork


These are Quentin Blake’s rough sketches for Roald Dahl’s book Matilda, published in 1988. Quentin worked with Roald Dahl for 13 years from 1977 until Roald’s death in 1990. Their collaboration was one of the most creative and best-loved in all children’s book illustration.

Quentin Blake’s sketches for Miss Trunchbull

The first two images show Quentin’s rough sketches for Matilda’s horrible headmistress, Miss Agatha Trunchbull, who used to be a champion weightlifter. In the sketch of Hortensia putting itching powder into Miss Trunchbull’s knickers, there is a photo on the chest of drawers of Miss Trunchbull lifting weights.

Who inspired the character of Miss Trunchbull?

Roald Dahl based Miss Trunchbull’s character on ‘a mean and loathsome’ old woman, Mrs Pratchett, who owned his local sweetshop when he was a boy. However he asked Quentin to base Miss Trunchbull’s appearance on Miss Beatrix Havergal, who ran an Edwardian school of horticulture. Miss Havergal wore a belted smock and breeches tucked into her knee socks, although she was probably much nicer than Miss Trunchbull!

Quentin Blake’s sketches for Matilda

The other rough sketches in this selection show Quentin working out Matilda’s appearance and expressions. Matilda’s beloved teacher, Miss Honey, also appears at top left, wearing glasses.

Quentin uses his rough sketches to work out his characters’ gestures and expressions. Then he places his rough on a lightbox with watercolour paper on top to make the finished illustration. Quentin says he always starts with the most difficult part of the drawing – usually a gesture or expression – so that if it goes wrong he doesn’t have to throw away a whole piece of expensive watercolour paper!

This finished ink line and wash illustration of Matilda sitting surrounded by books was used for the front cover of the first edition of the book.

Full title:
Matilda by Roald Dahl: Quentin Blake's sketches and original artwork
c. 1988
Illustration / Original artwork / Image
Quentin Blake
© Quentin Blake 1982.
Usage terms

© Quentin Blake 1982. Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further.

Held by
Private Collection

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