An English Village
Middleton Village, an English village possibly a bit like the one Matilda lives in
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMiddleton Village, an English village possibly a bit like the one Matilda lives in - Credit: Keith Evans

"She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village."

Lots of English villages are still quite small communities where most people know each other. They might have only a couple of shops and a single school for all the children. Growing up in such a small place, it's no wonder that Matilda enjoys the chance to travel in her mind and see so many exciting new places through her books.

Matilda's School
An old-fashioned classroom
Creative Commons AttributionAn old-fashioned classroom - Credit: Just Us 3

By the sound of it, Matilda's school is a pretty old-fashioned place. Miss Trunchbull, the headmistress, is a believer in old-fashioned education, where children are seen and not heard and classrooms are dull, strict places. Miss Honey must be a welcome change! 

One of the most old-fashioned things about the school is that The Trunchbull still wants to be able to beat children who misbehave. This form of punishment is called corporal punishment. It was made illegal in UK state schools in 1987, a year before Matilda was published, so you can see how behind the times The Trunchbull is.  

Matilda's Imagination
A memorial to one of the world's other big imaginers: John Lennon
Public DomainA memorial to one of the world's other big imaginers: John Lennon
A lot of the main events first take place in Matilda's mind. By using her imagination, she learns that she is far more powerful than she first thought. She imagines things and makes them happen: she moves cups, rips portraits off walls and causes all sorts of chaos. And imagination is how you make the whole story happen too, by using your imagination to bring all the characters to life and make pictures in your mind.