Matilda at 30 // Letters to October (11)

Dear October,

This year, you bring the 30th birthday of a book very close to my heart. Roald Dahl’s Matilda is my favourite — I’ve written about it quite a few times (here’s a letter to the eponymous character and a post on why Roald Dahl is my favourite author). To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the novel’s publication, Puffin has released three special editions in which Quentin Blake imagines what Matilda would be doing as a 30-year-old. He sees her as an astrophysicist, a world traveller or chief executive at the British Library. He also thought up other possible scenarios (see this article by the BBC), and others have been joining him in imagining Matilda at 30 (see this article by The Guardian).

As such a fan of the book, my mind has also been churning with potential ideas since I heard about these special editions. So in today’s letter, let’s you and I imagine what little Matilda Wormwood could grow up to be.

1. Teacher

My strongest belief is that Matilda would want to help other children the way Miss Honey helped her. Before Miss Honey, Matilda didn’t have a real companion who recognised her potential, wanted to help her flourish, and most importantly, loved her. I think Matilda would be likely to return to the classroom, perhaps inheriting some of Miss Honey’s learning techniques. Imagine learning about quantum physics through rhyme.

2. Actor or production designer

“‘Come on!’ Matilda cried and she burst into the room, brandishing her knife. ‘Stick ’em up!’ she yelled. ‘We’ve caught you!'”

You can’t deny that Matilda has some serious acting skills. She convinces her family into believing their dining room is haunted, and Miss Trunchbull into thinking a vengeful ghost is after her (I’m sensing a pattern here). She could put these to good use onstage or onscreen, perhaps in a supernatural thriller of some sort.

Alternatively, she could work behind the scenes to stage the perfect performance, applying the planning and plotting skills she shows throughout the book.

3. Human rights lawyer

Matilda has a strong sense of justice. She critiques her father for deceiving his customers and stands up to bullying figures throughout the novel. It wouldn’t be surprising if she carried this over to her profession. She could have a career as a human rights lawyer or something similar, helping the defenceless with her sharp mind, articulate words and kind heart.

4. Inventor

Matilda asks lots of questions. She’s inquisitive and wants to learn more about the world. A natural next step is doing something with that knowledge. She might have inherited some of her father’s resourcefulness, but would never apply it the way he does. I think she would use her powers for good and create curious and wonderful objects, anything from a limerick generator to self-automated chalk.

5. A writer

Is it too cliché to consider this a possibility? Of all the professions I could think of, this is one that would allow Matilda to channel her creativity and intelligence most freely. She could learn about robotics one day and research 15th century France the next — the possibilities would be endless.

What do you think Matilda would be doing at 30? Let me know your ideas.

I’m blogging everyday this month: take a look at the introduction to the series here.

Thank you for reading!

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