Goosebumps author sets record straight on historic edits

RL Stine, beloved Goosebumps author was forced to defend himself following a story about him editing his books.

RL Stine, beloved Goosebumps author was forced to defend himself following a story about him editing his books. Photo: Getty

The author of the famed Goosebumps series has been accused of bowing to “woke culture” after it emerged some of his hit children’s books have been “sanitised”.

Last week, Britain’s Times newspaper revealed some of RL Stine’s books had been “sanitised”, to use more inclusive language and change or omit phrases related to “mental health, weight or ethnicity”.

Writer’s self-censoring includes changing ‘plump’ to ‘cheerful’ and ‘crazy’ to ‘silly’,” The Times reported.

It came days after the controversy over a publisher’s planned edits to some of Roald Dahl best-known books.

Other media outlets seized on the story, implying Stine was involved in the Goosebumps revisions. But that wasn’t the case, according to the author himself

Responding to outraged fans on social media, Stine has said repeatedly that the reports are wrong.

This story is false. I have never changed a word in a Goosebumps book,” he said on Tuesday in response to a fan who pleaded with him to leave the books alone.

In another tweet, he insisted that any proposed edits had “never” been shown to him.

The Times did reference several changes to Goosebumps books – but pointed out they were made in 2018, as part of an ebook re-release. Publisher Scholastic has confirmed the older edits.

“For more than 30 years, the Goosebumps series has brought millions of kids to reading through humour with just the right amount of scary,” the statement said, according to Deadline.

“Scholastic takes its responsibility seriously to continue bringing this classic adolescent brand to each new generation. When re-issuing titles several years ago, Scholastic reviewed the text to keep the language current and avoid imagery that could negatively impact a young person’s view of themselves today, with a particular focus on mental health.”

Goosebumps accused of getting the ‘woke’ treatment

Stine has since been embroiled in accusations of being a “sellout” and “woke”. Some even claimed he was “forced” by a “woke mob” to make the changes.

He was also accused of censorship – for changes he never made.

Hey y’all, @RL_Stine himself is saying REPEATEDLY that he has never changed a single word of a Goosebumps book, calm down with your “Woke” terrified witch hunt good grief,” one person said on Twitter.

Just last month, people were outraged by the decision to alter some of Roald Dahl’s books to make them more inclusive.

Several of Dahl’s books, including Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Matilda, were altered.

A Roald Dahl Story Company spokesperson told The Telegraph that it was “not unusual” to review language written years ago, likening it to updating a book’s cover and page layout.

“Our guiding principle throughout has been to maintain the storylines, characters, and the irreverence and sharp-edged spirit of the original text,” they said.

“Any changes made have been small and carefully considered.”

In the past, Dahl has been accused of antisemitism, racism and misogyny.

The late author amended Charlie and the Chocolate Factory himself back in 1973, almost a decade after it was originally published. It followed pressure due to his original description of the Oompa Loompas.

The Dahl proposal brought backlash, notably from the likes of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Queen Consort. Puffin, the publisher, then decided to give people a choice, buy the books as they were written by Dahl, or with the changes.

Shortly after, it was confirmed Ian Fleming’s James Bond books would also be revised by their publisher. The rereleases will be available in April in honour of Casino Royale‘s 70th anniversary.

The rewrites will reportedly focus on Fleming’s descriptions of characters, particularly ethnic minorities.

Prior to his death in 1964, Fleming approved changes to his novels and gave US publishers permission to tone down racial references in Live and Let Die.

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