The BFG by Roald Dahl: pages from the Ideas Book and manuscript drafts



This story by Roald Dahl is about a young girl named Sophie who is whisked away from her home in an orphanage by the BFG – the Big Friendly Giant. He tells her about his job, to blow dreams into the rooms of children, and also about his terrifying neighbours – other giants who EAT children. Together, Sophie and the BFG manage to defeat the other giants, with a little help from Her Majesty the Queen of England.

Where did Roald Dahl keep his ideas?

The BFG came from an idea that Roald Dahl had a long time before he wrote the book. Throughout his life Roald kept many ‘ideas books’ – notebooks which were packed with potential story ideas. Here you can see a page from an ideas book which shows one of the very first times the BFG entered Roald’s mind.

When Roald used one of the ideas, he would tick it off and write down the name of the book he used it in.

A list of Gobblefunk words

The BFG is full of incredible words that Roald invented specially for the BFG. In the second image, you can see how he created long lists of these words, such as ‘gloriumptious’ and ‘whizz-fizzing’. This made-up language is called ‘Gobblefunk’.

The BFG in Danny the Champion of the World

Did you know that The BFG isn’t the only time that the legend of the Big Friendly Giant appears in a Roald Dahl story? In Danny the Champion of the World Danny’s father tells Danny a bedtime story, all about the BFG. The third image here is from the very first draft of Danny the Champion of the World, written in Roald’s spidery handwriting. Roald loved this idea so much that he had to write a whole new children’s book, just for his new character.


                            A Fantasy.

The man who captured and kept

in bottles              - ideas from the brain

                            - pieces of knowledge

                            - jokes                                                         (BFG)


I saw them thrashing around furiously

in their jars.

              But when do you get

your patients [?]

                            - People like you –

                            - oh dear.


I was let out again in the end, but

as you can see he took most of

my knowledge, thoughts etc. ... as you

can see I’m quite dotty.

                                                                                                (Big Friendly Giant)

The child who made the wish. “
I watched him putting a spoonful of cocoa into
each mug, Then Three sugar-lumps into mine and Two into
his. The Kettle was not boiling yet.
“So”, he said, “from the dreams and the
wishes of children, The Big Friendly Giant makes his
secret magic powders. And when the powders are ready, he
stores them in small wooden barrels at the back of the
cave. Each barrel has with a label on it giving the name
of the powder.”
“What sort of names?” I asked.
“Wait”, my father said. “That comes later. So
every night, as soon as it is dark, The BFG gets ready
to go visiting. He has a huge black suitcase very large one,
and the inside of it suitcase is divided up into lots of tiny
square compartments or holes. He fills each compartment with a
different powder and he takes great care to see that they
are all properly labelled. When he goes out at night, he
always takes two things with him, the suitcase with the
powders in it and a long hollow, blow-pipe.”
The kettle was boiling now and my father poured the
water into the mugs and stirred them well. He gave me
mine first, then fetched his own and settled down again on
the edge of the bunk.
“Have you ever seen him?” I asked. “The BFG?” //
(next p) (31)

he skimmed toward her.

lemons & fresh coffee.

The Fleshlumpeating Giant


a notmucker, a squeakpop.

                                     manhugging giant

cronky                          fizzlecump                   Troggy                          jumpsy

crinky                           bottlewart                    paggle                          dropey

corky                           gumplewink                  pibbling                        Snipsy             (Lilliam Stovell)

                                     swigfiddle                    dibbling                       Kicksey

                                     squiffsquiddle             ristling                         fruggler

blivver(ing)                 flushbu nkling                blunketing                    gobswitch

stoching                      whopsy-waddling        prunking                      crodswitch

protching                     pongswizzler                filking                          kickswitch

mickering (around)      scumscrewer                 pit pitching                   grobby

                                    bagblurter                     scoddling                     lickwish

                                     fizzwurtler ^ wiggler       slidger                         dissible

swish...                        spitzwargler                  squiggling                    sliggy

         ...                        spitzwoggler                squibbling

         ...                         buzzburger                   squinkling                     bunkledoodle

                                    bizzfizz                        squackling                   (grob fatch)

                                    buzzfuzz                       squmping                      grobswitch

                                    baghangar                    scumping                      wimplesquiffer

                                    bophanger                     scuddling                     snippley    garbagewiffer

                                    wash-hinger                 swiddling                    grilky

                                    spongewiggler              squiffling                     gronky

                                     codswallop                  slunging                       grouty

                                     muckfrumping             grobbled                       creem puffnut

                                    splatchwinkling           squiffly-jumpsy

                                     crodscollop                                                       Grog winkle

                                    shedbelly                     reg rasper                      ringbeller

                                     spatchwinkle                 rotrasper                      phizz-whizz                 [Houser?]

                                     swishfiggler                                                     (chidler or tottle-child)

                                    swogglewop                 Scrumplet                    Schweinwein

                                    Gunzle Swipe              Squiffler                                                          squinky

                                    pifflemuller                  sludge                           Squeakpip                   scrund


Full title:
Manuscript page from Roald Dahl’s Ideas Book; Manuscript page from the first draft of ‘The BFG’; Manuscript page from the first draft of ‘Danny the Champion of the World’
c. 1948–87 (Ideas Book); 1981 (The BFG draft); 1974 (Danny the Champion of the World draft)
Notebook / Manuscript / Draft
Roald Dahl
© The Roald Dahl Story Company Limited
Usage terms

© The Roald Dahl Story Company Limited, image courtesy of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.

Held by
Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre
RD/11/2/141; RD/2/19/1/1; RD/2/12/1/14

Related articles

Go deeper: Size and scale in children's books

Article by:
Imogen Carter, consultant: M O Grenby
Go deeper, Big and small

From miniature people, to towering giants, playing with size and scale add a fun dimension to children’s books!

Themed book list: Magic and fantasy

Article by:
Magic and fantasy

Browse children's books from different times and places.

Themed book list: Food

Article by:

Explore food, drink and eating in children's literature through Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows, Winnie-the-Pooh, The Famous Five, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and many more.

Related collection items