First UK edition
|Published||1 October 1988|
Matilda is a
In 2012 Matilda was ranked number 30 among all-time children's novels in a survey published by
In a small
At school, Matilda makes friends with her teacher, Jennifer Honey, who is astonished by Matilda's intellectual abilities. She tries to move her into a higher class but is refused by the headmistress, the tyrannical
Matilda quickly develops a particularly strong bond with Miss Honey and watches as Miss Trunchbull terrorizes her students with deliberately creative, over-the-top punishments to prevent parents from believing them. When Matilda's friend, Lavender, plays a practical joke on Miss Trunchbull by placing a
After Matilda reveals her powers to Miss Honey, Miss Honey confides that she was raised by an abusive aunt after the suspicious death of her father. Her aunt is revealed to be Miss Trunchbull, who appears (among other misdeeds) to be withholding her niece's inheritance so that Miss Honey has to live in poverty in a derelict farm cottage. Preparing to avenge Miss Honey, Matilda develops her telekinetic gift through practice at home. Later, during a sadistic lesson that Miss Trunchbull is teaching, Matilda telekinetically raises a piece of chalk to the blackboard and writes on it, posing as the spirit of Miss Honey's late father and demanding that Miss Trunchbull hand over Miss Honey's house and wages and leave the region forever.
This is soon done, and a short while later the school's deputy head teacher, Mr. Trilby, visits Miss Trunchbull's house but finds it empty with no sign of her next destination. As Mr. Trilby becomes the new head of the school, he proves himself to be capable and good-natured, with the result that Matilda herself advances to the highest level of schooling. Rather to her relief, she is no longer capable of telekinesis; this is explained by Miss Honey as the result of using her mind on a more challenging curriculum. Matilda continues to visit Miss Honey at her house regularly, but one day finds her parents and her older brother Michael hastily packing to escape from the police, who are after her father for selling stolen cars. Matilda asks permission to live with Miss Honey, to which her parents rather uninterestedly agree. So both she and Miss Honey find their happy ending, and the school's atmosphere and curriculum have overwhelmingly improved under Mr. Trilby.