Matilda

by

Roald Dahl

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Mrs. Phelps is the librarian in the village. Though she’s in awe of Matilda’s apparent genius, Mrs. Phelps never says anything to make Matilda feel odd or uncomfortable. Instead, Mrs. Phelps supports Matilda as she reads the library’s entire children section, and then works through many English-language classics such as novels by Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, and Jane Austen. She encourages Matilda to keep reading and enjoying books, even when Matilda doesn’t entirely understand what she’s reading. She’s also concerned somewhat for Matilda’s welfare, since she knows that the Wormwoods don’t like books and don’t care about their daughter at all. But Mrs. Phelps believes that it never ends well to get involved with other people’s children, so she settles for supporting Matilda as best she can while Matilda is at the library.

Mrs. Phelps Quotes in Matilda

The Matilda quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Phelps or refer to Mrs. Phelps. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Adults, Children, and Power Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Puffin Books edition of Matilda published in 2007.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“My mother goes to Aylesbury every afternoon to play bingo,” Matilda had said. “She doesn’t know I come here.”

“But that’s surely not right,” Mrs Phelps said. “I think you’d better ask her.”

“I’d rather not,” Matilda said. “She doesn’t encourage reading books. Nor does my father.”

“But what do they expect you to do every afternoon in an empty house?”

“Just mooch around and watch the telly.”

“I see.”

“She doesn’t really care what I do,” Matilda said a little sadly.

Mrs Phelps was concerned about the child’s safety on the walk through the fairly busy village High Street and crossing the road, but she decided not to interfere.

Related Characters: Matilda Wormwood (speaker), Mrs. Phelps (speaker), Mrs. Wormwood, Mr. Wormwood
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Matilda LitChart as a printable PDF.
Matilda PDF

Mrs. Phelps Character Timeline in Matilda

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Phelps appears in Matilda. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1. The Reader of Books
Education and Opportunity Theme Icon
Family, Institutions, and Chosen Family Theme Icon
...Matilda walks alone to the little library in her village. There, she introduces herself to Mrs. Phelps , the librarian, and asks to sit with a book. Though Mrs. Phelps is shocked... (full context)
Education and Opportunity Theme Icon
Family, Institutions, and Chosen Family Theme Icon
Mrs. Phelps has been watching Matilda for weeks. Now, as she sees Matilda perusing the shelves, she... (full context)
Education and Opportunity Theme Icon
Family, Institutions, and Chosen Family Theme Icon
Though Mrs. Phelps figures this is ridiculous, she spends the next week watching Matilda rest the heavy book... (full context)
Adults, Children, and Power Theme Icon
Education and Opportunity Theme Icon
Family, Institutions, and Chosen Family Theme Icon
...finishes the book and announces she loved Great Expectations—did Mr. Dickens write other books? With Mrs. Phelps ’s help, Matilda works through many classics, such as Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen,... (full context)
Education and Opportunity Theme Icon
Matilda especially loves Hemingway, though she admits she doesn’t understand everything he says. Mrs. Phelps assures her that’s okay and shares that libraries allow people to borrow books to take... (full context)