NICOLA Sturgeon has shared a warning over the rewriting of parts of Roald Dahl's books deemed too offensive for publication.

Scotland's First Minister retweeted a thread by Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America, a group which campaigns for free expression in the US, who condemned the move.

The Telegraph reports that publisher Puffin has hired sensitivity readers to edit and rewrite some of Dalh's most famous works in a bid to appeal to modern audiences' sensibilities.

The Roald Dahl Story Company and publishers Puffin confirmed that edits were made but insisted they were "small and carefully considered".

READ MORE: Aberdeen University professor hits back at censorship claims

The edits include the removal or rewriting of content deemed offensive, such as references to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race.

The word "fat" is among those to be removed from the author's works, with "ugly" also being taken out.

In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Augustus Goop is now described as "enormous".

In The Twits, they changed "ugly and beastly" to just "beastly".

Gender-neutral terms have also been added to places, while references to "female" characters have been replaced with the word "woman".

Nossel said she was "alarmed" by the news.

"Amidst fierce battles against book bans and strictures on what can be taught and read, selective editing to make works of literature conform to particular sensibilities could represent a dangerous new weapon," she said.

"Those who might cheer specific edits to Dahl's work should consider how the power to rewrite books might be used in the hands of those who do not share their values and sensibilities.

"We understand the impulse to want to ensure that great works of children's literature do not alienate kids or foster stereotypes."

Nossel said certain books, such as some Dr Seuss books, have been removed from shelves entirely for causing offence, which she says is "rarely, if ever, justifiable".

The National: The rewriting of Roald Dahl books has prompted a backlashThe rewriting of Roald Dahl books has prompted a backlash (Image: PA)

She continued: "The problem with taking license to re-edit classic works is that there is no limiting principle. You start out wanting to replace a word here and a word there, and end up inserting entirely new ideas (as has been done to Dahl's work).

"Literature is meant to be surprising and provocative. That's part of its potency. By setting out to remove any reference that might cause offense you dilute the power of storytelling

"Better than playing around with these texts is to offer introductory context that prepares people for what they are about to read, and helps them understand the setting in which it was written."

Nossel said if publishers wish to go beyond that readers should be made aware and be allowed to read the original work.

She said any changes should be kept "as surgical as possible" with expert input.

She said: "So much of literature could be construed as offensive to someone - based on race, gender, religion, age, socio-economic status or myriad other factors. Such portrayals are vital topics for discussion and debate, leading to new insights

"Should Charlie Bucket's elderly grandparents now be depicted not as lying in bed, but rather perhaps golfing or playing pickle ball?

"If we start down the path of trying to correct for perceived slights instead of allowing readers to receive and react to books as written, we risk distorting the work of great authors and clouding the essential lens that literature offers on society."

Rishi Sunak has also voiced concern over the edits, using a quote from Dahl's BFG in a warning not to “gobblefunk” with words.

“When it comes to our rich and varied literary heritage, the Prime Minister agrees with the BFG that we shouldn’t gobblefunk around with words," the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said.

The National: Rishi Sunak's spokesperson said works of art should be preserved and not ‘airbrushed’ for modern audiencesRishi Sunak's spokesperson said works of art should be preserved and not ‘airbrushed’ for modern audiences (Image: PA)

The official added: “I think it’s important that works of literature and works of fiction are preserved and not airbrushed.

“We have always defended the right to free speech and expression."

Dahl died in 1990 at the age of 74 but has regularly topped the list of the UK's favourite authors.

But his legacy has been marred by his antisemitic views.

READ MORE: Scottish teenagers are choosing books that are ‘too easy’

In 2020, his family apologised, saying they recognised the “lasting and understandable hurt caused by Roald Dahl’s antisemitic statements”.

His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman suggested Dahl’s works should be left to “fade away” and go out of print as modern tastes move on.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think Roald Dahl can look after himself, I haven’t read his books for very many years and I don’t want to again.”

Pullman added: “If Dahl offends us, let him go out of print.”