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Miss Agatha Trunchbull, also known as Miss Trunchbull or simply The Trunchbull, the fictional headmistress of Crunchem Hall Primary School (Crunchem Hall Elementary School, is one of the main antagonists in Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel Matilda and in the 1996 film and 2011 musical based on the novel. She is said to look "more like an eccentric and rather bloodthirsty follower of the stag-hounds than the headmistress of a nice school for children".[1]

Agatha Trunchbull
Matilda character
Created byRoald Dahl
Portrayed byIn the film:
Pam Ferris
In the musical:
Bertie Carvel
OccupationSchool headmistress/principal


Fictional character biographyEdit

Miss Trunchbull is depicted as being a "gigantic holy terror, a fierce tyrannical monster who frightened the life out of pupils and teachers alike"[2] notorious for her wildly excessive and idiosyncratic discipline: trivial misdeeds (including simply wearing pigtails) incurring punishments up to potentially-fatal physical discipline. Her hatred of children is so great she denies ever having been a child herself.

She is revealed to be the maternal aunt (or step-aunt in the film) of Matilda's sweet-natured primary school teacher Miss Jennifer Honey. Miss Trunchbull served as Jennifer's childhood guardian after the passing of her parents. It's strongly implied that Agatha murdered Magnus Honey, Jennifer's father, and made it appear as a suicide. Agatha then became the legal owner of the Honey estate and Jennifer's legal guardian. Jennifer's exposure to Agatha's emotional and physical abuse as a little girl, rendered her quite soft-spoken and timid. Jennifer admitted that she became Agatha's slave, and performed the chores and housework. Once Jennifer graduated school and teachers' training college, Agatha seized hold of Jennifer's salary.

Out of adoration for her schoolteacher, Matilda used her telekinetic abilities to drive Agatha from her own house one day by posing as Magnus's spirit and levitating a chalk stick to scrawl a message on the board. Terrified, Miss Trunchbull subsequently vanishes, and gives back her house to her niece, and is replaced by Mr. Trilby (however, in the film, Miss Honey becomes the headmistress).

It is revealed that Miss Trunchbull is very superstitious and has an intense fear of ghosts, black cats, and the supernatural in general. Her fear is later used as a weakness for Matilda to scare her thus teaching Miss Trunchbull a lesson. She is afraid of chicken legs.

Miss Trunchbull was a past shot putter, hammer, and javelin thrower in the Munich Olympics. She often throws children and uses a crop to scare children as punishment, which often ends in accidents or injuries. She is brutal to all children and also made a boy (Bruce Bogtrotter) eat a colossal chocolate cake as punishment for apparently eating a piece of her own chocolate cake only to make the children rewrite the dictionary by hand and blaming Bruce for eating the whole cake in the first place.


As children, Roald Dahl and his friends played a trick on the local sweet-shop owner—a “mean and loathsome” old woman named Mrs Pratchett—by putting a dead mouse in a gobstopper jar. This would inspire Dahl to include a scene in Matilda where Matilda’s friend Lavender puts a newt into the water jug of Miss Trunchbull.[3]


Miss Trunchbull is portrayed by Pam Ferris in the film and Bertie Carvel in the musical.[4] Later, Christopher Sieber portrayed the role in the musical, replacing Carvel.


  1. ^ Dahl, Roald (2012). Roald Dahl: Three Tales of Magic and Mischief. Random House. p. 214.
  2. ^ Trunchbull, Agatha. Matilda. Jonathan Cape.
  3. ^ "Dahl's childhood sweetshop and its influence on his books". BBC. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  4. ^ “9 Fascinating Facts from behind the scenes of Matilda”. Radio Times. Retrieved 17 January 2018