There are many brilliant authors who write for both children and adults... but it's always a little weird to read a book for adults by a much loved author from your childhood. It's sort of like running into teachers outside of school, or watching your parents post on social media. And when that adult book deals with murder and graphic sex... well, here are a few very adult books written by beloved children's authors.
Now, look, I understand that children's authors are grown ups. They have lives outside of writing. I'm not saying that they're not allowed to have an opinion on sex and drugs and whatnot. It's just... a little weird to read about. I mean, now The Giving Tree is going to be forever linked in my mind to Shel Silverstein's Playboy material, and I'm not quite sure that I needed that in my life.
But, hey, if you want to forever ruin Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for yourself by reading Roald Dahl's deeply disturbing novels about less than consensual sex, don't let me stop you (but don't say that I didn't warn you). So here are some books that may or may not force you to rethink your entire childhood:
1. Wifey by Judy Blume
Judy Blume is best known for her coming of age stories about girls getting their periods and toddlers eating turtles. She's not so well known for writing about bored housewives watching naked men masturbate on motorcycles, which might be why Wifey is not her most popular book. Wifey is an anti-romance novel filled with dark sexual tension—not exactly a follow-up to Superfudge.
2. My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl
If you thought The Witches was disturbing, just wait until you meet Uncle Oswald. My Uncle Oswald is pretty much wall-to-wall sex, some of it non-consensual, as Oswald travels across Europe to collect the sperm of rich and powerful men. That's the plot. It's not the only risqué Dahl book either: Switch Bitch collects two other lascivious Oswald stories.
3. The Seven Lady Godivas by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss was a political cartoonist back in the day, but by far his weirdest piece of work is the adult "fairy tale," The Seven Lady Godivas. All seven ladies are nude for the whole book, it's full of sexual tension, and it's clearly not meant for kids... but it's also written in Seuss's classic, kid-friendly style so who knows??
4. The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne
To be fair, The Red House Mystery isn't a wild, sexual romp like some of these other books—it's a classic murder mystery, complete with intrigue and an English manor house. But still, it's the author of Winnie the Pooh writing about grisly murder and that's just a tiny bit weird.
5. The Strange Case of Patty Hearst by Francine Pascal
Francine Pascal is known for creating the (somewhat insipid) world of Sweet Valley High. But she also co-wrote a biography of Patty Hearst, the 19-year-old who was kidnapped, beaten, and sexually abused by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974. Just a... really different vibe than those hot sisters hanging out in Sweet Valley.
6. Behind a Mask by Louisa May Alcott
Sorry, Little Women fans, but Louisa May Alcott was actually all about thrillers (or at least, she wrote a lot of thrillers for the cash). Behind a Mask collects several of Louisa May Alcotts potboilers, all filled with sex, drugs, and murder. She called them her "blood and thunder tales," at the time.
7. An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein by Shel Silverstein
When he wasn't writing adorable, goofy books for kids, Shel was drawing scandalous cartoons for Playboy or writing the truly odd play, An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein. It's a collection of dramatic shorts involving sexual assault, sexism, sexual slavery, and dead ponies. One of the shorts involves a woman being assaulted, killing her assailant, and being tried in court, but the only dialogue is the phrase "meat and potatoes."
8. Superstitious by R.L. Stine
Superstitious is a horror story, but it's a far cry from Goosebumps. A superstitious professor of folklore becomes embroiled in a series of gruesome murders, as he starts to suspect that hiss demons are real... but with a ton of gore and sex and the severed hands of ex-boyfriends.