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Original title page
|Author||L. Frank Baum|
|Illustrator||W. W. Denslow|
|Series||The Oz books|
|Genre||Fantasy, children's novel|
|Publisher||George M. Hill Company|
|May 17, 1900|
|Followed by||The Marvelous Land of Oz|
Original title page
|Author||L. Frank Baum|
|Illustrator||W. W. Denslow|
|Series||The Oz books|
|Genre||Fantasy, children's novel|
|Publisher||George M. Hill Company|
|May 17, 1900|
|Followed by||The Marvelous Land of Oz|
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children's novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. Originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on May 17, 1900, it has since been reprinted numerous times, most often under the name The Wizard of Oz, which is the name of both the popular 1902 Broadway musical and the well-known 1939 film adaptation.
The story chronicles the adventures of a young girl named Dorothy Gale in the Land of Oz, after being swept away from her Kansas farm home in a cyclone.[nb 1] The novel is one of the best-known stories in American popular culture and has been widely translated. Its initial success, and the success of the 1902 Broadway musical which Baum adapted from his original story, led to Baum's writing thirteen additional Oz books. The original book has been in the public domain in the US since 1956.
Baum dedicated the book "to my good friend & comrade, My Wife", Maud Gage Baum. In January 1901, George M. Hill Company completed printing the first edition, which totaled 10,000 copies.
The book was published by George M. Hill Company. Its first edition had a printing of 10,000 copies and was sold in advance of the publication date of September 1, 1900. On May 17, 1900, the first copy of the book came off the press; Baum assembled it by hand and presented it to his sister, Mary Louise Baum Brewster. The public saw the book for the first time at a book fair at the Palmer House in Chicago, July 5–20. The book's copyright was registered on August 1; full distribution followed in September. By October 1900, the first edition had already sold out and the second edition of 15,000 copies was nearly depleted.
In a letter to his brother Harry, Baum wrote that the book's publisher, George M. Hill, predicted a sale of about 250,000 copies. In spite of this favorable conjecture, Hill did not initially predict the book would be phenomenally successful. He agreed to publish the book only when the manager of the Chicago Grand Opera House, Fred R. Hamlin, committed to making The Wizard of Oz into a musical stage play to publicize the novel. The play The Wizard of Oz debuted on June 16, 1902. It was revised to suit adult preferences and was crafted as a "musical extravaganza". The music was written by Paul Tietjens and the costumes were modeled after Denslow's drawings. Anna Laughlin starred as Dorothy, Dave Montgomery was the Tin Woodman, and Fred Stone was the Scarecrow. Montgomery and Stone immediately became stars, with the Chicago Tribune 's printing pictures of the two in their costumes and stating, "To Montgomery and Stone, The Tribune awards the honors of pioneers in original comedy." After Hill's publishing company became bankrupt in 1901, Baum and Denslow agreed to have the Indianapolis-based Bobbs-Merrill Company resume publishing the novel.
Baum's son Harry Neal told the Chicago Tribune in 1944 that L. Frank told his children "whimsical stories before they became material for his books". Harry called his father the "swellest man I knew", a man who was able to give a decent reason as to why black birds cooked in a pie could afterwards get out and sing.
Dorothy Gale is a young orphaned girl raised by her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry in the bleak landscape of a Kansas farm. She has a little black dog Toto, who is her sole source of happiness on the dry, gray prairies. One day, Dorothy and Toto are caught up in a cyclone. It deposits their farmhouse into a field in Munchkin Country, the eastern quadrant of the Land of Oz. The falling house kills the Wicked Witch of the East, the evil ruler of the Munchkins.
The Good Witch of the North comes with the grateful Munchkins to greet Dorothy and gives Dorothy the Silver Shoes (believed to have magical properties) that the Wicked Witch of the East had been wearing when she was killed. In order to return to Kansas, the Good Witch of the North tells Dorothy that she will have to go to the Emerald City and ask the Wizard of Oz to help her. Before she leaves, the Good Witch of the North kisses her on the forehead, giving her magical protection from trouble.
On her way down the yellow brick road, Dorothy frees the Scarecrow from the pole on which he is hanging, applies oil from a can to the rusted connections of the Tin Woodman, then meets the Cowardly Lion, and encourages the three of them to journey with her and Toto to the Emerald City. The Scarecrow wants to get a brain, the Tin Woodman wants a heart, and the Cowardly Lion wants courage. All four of the travelers believe that the Wizard can solve their troubles. The party overcomes many obstacles on their journey, including gaps in the yellow brick road, vicious Kalidahs (beasts with bodies like bears and heads like tigers), a river, and a field of deadly poppies.
When the travelers arrive at the Emerald City, they are asked by the Guardian of the Gates to wear green spectacles as long as they remain in the city. The four are the first to ever meet the Wizard. He appears to each of them as something different: Dorothy sees the Wizard as a giant head, the Scarecrow sees the Wizard as a beautiful woman, the Tin Woodman sees the Wizard as a terrible beast, and the Cowardly Lion sees the Wizard as a ball of fire. The Wizard agrees to help them all if they defeat the Wicked Witch of the West, who rules over the western Winkie Country. The Guardian of the Gates warns them that no one has ever managed to harm the very cunning and cruel Wicked Witch.
As the friends travel across the Winkie Country, the Wicked Witch can see them coming. First, she sends her 40 great wolves to tear them to pieces, but the Tin Woodman manages to kill them all with his axe. Second, she sends her 40 wild crows to peck their eyes out, but the Scarecrow manages to kill them all by breaking their necks. Third, she summons a swarm of black bees to sting them, but the Tin Woodman sits atop the Scarecrow's extra straw that hides the other three. Fourth, she has her Winkie soldiers attack them, but the Cowardly Lion stands firm to repeal them. Finally, she uses the power of the Golden Cap to send the winged monkeys to capture Dorothy, Toto and the Cowardly Lion, un-stuff the Scarecrow, and dent the Tin Woodman. This plan is successful and the survivors are carried to the Wicked Witch. She forces Dorothy to do housework for the castle while scheming to steal her silver shoes.
The Wicked Witch tricks Dorothy out of one of her silver shoes and in anger, Dorothy throws a bucket of water at the Wicked Witch. Dorothy is shocked to see the Witch melt away. The Winkies rejoice at being freed of the witch's tyranny and they help re-stuff the Scarecrow and mend the Tin Woodman. The Winkies ask the Tin Woodman to become their ruler, which he agrees to do after helping Dorothy return to Kansas. Dorothy finds the Golden Cap and summons the Winged Monkeys to carry her and her companions back to the Emerald City. The King of the Winged Monkeys tells how he and the other monkeys are bound by an enchantment to the cap by the sorceress Gayelette, and that Dorothy may use the cap to summon the Winged Monkeys two more times.
When Dorothy and her friends meet the Wizard of Oz again, he tries to put them off, but Toto accidentally tips over a screen in a corner of the throne room where hides the Wizard. He sadly explains he is a humbug—an ordinary old man who, by a hot air balloon, came to Oz long ago from Omaha. The Wizard provides the Scarecrow with a head full of bran, pins, and needles ("a lot of bran-new brains"), the Tin Woodman with a silk heart stuffed with sawdust, and the Cowardly Lion a potion of "courage". Their faith in the Wizard's power gives these otherwise useless items a focus for their desires. In order to help Dorothy and Toto get home, the Wizard decides to leave the Emerald City and take them home with him, as he has grown tired of being cooped up and wants to return to circus work. He and Dorothy make a new hot air balloon from green silk. At the send off, he reveals himself to the people of the Emerald City and he appoints the Scarecrow, by virtue of his brains, to rule in his stead, which he agrees to do after Dorothy returns to Kansas. Toto chases a kitten in the crowd and Dorothy goes after him, but the tethers of the balloon break and the Wizard floats away.
Dorothy summons the Winged Monkeys to carry her and Toto home, but they explain they cannot cross the desert surrounding Oz. The Soldier with the Green Whiskers advises that Glinda the Good Witch of the South may be able to help Dorothy and Toto get home. Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion journey to Glinda's palace in the Quadling Country. Together they escape the Fighting Trees, tread carefully through the China Country where they meet Mr. Joker, and dodge the armless Hammer-Heads on their hill. The Cowardly Lion kills a giant spider who is terrorizing the animals in a forest. The animals ask the Cowardly Lion to become their king, which he agrees to do after helping Dorothy return to Kansas. Dorothy summons the Winged Monkeys a third time to fly them over the Hammer-Heads' mountain.
At Glinda's palace, the travelers are greeted warmly, and it is revealed by Glinda that Dorothy had the power to go home all along: the Silver Shoes she wears can take her anywhere she wishes to go. She tearfully embraces her friends, all of whom will be returned, through Glinda's use of the Golden Cap, to their respective kingdoms: the Scarecrow to the Emerald City, the Tin Woodman to the Winkie Country, and the Cowardly Lion to the forest. The Golden Cap is given to the King of the Winged Monkeys, so they will never be under its spell again. Having bidden her friends farewell one final time, Dorothy knocks her heels together three times and wishes to return home. When she opens her eyes, Dorothy and Toto have returned to Kansas to a joyful family reunion.
The book was illustrated by Baum's friend and collaborator W. W. Denslow, who also co-held the copyright. The design was lavish for the time, with illustrations on many pages, backgrounds in different colors, and several color plate illustrations. In September 1900, The Grand Rapids Herald wrote that Denslow's illustrations are "quite as much of the story as in the writing". The editorial opined that had it not been for Denslow's pictures, the readers would be unable to picture precisely the figures of Dorothy, Toto, and the other characters.
The distinctive look led to imitators at the time, most notably Eva Katherine Gibson's Zauberlinda, the Wise Witch, which mimicked both the typography and the illustration design of Oz. The typeface was the newly designed Monotype Old Style. Denslow's illustrations were so well known that merchants of many products obtained permission to use them to promote their wares. The forms of the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, the Wizard, and Dorothy were made into rubber and metal sculptures. Costume jewelry, mechanical toys, and soap were also designed using their figures.
A new edition of the book appeared in 1944, with illustrations by Evelyn Copelman. Although it was claimed that the new illustrations were based on Denslow's originals, they more closely resemble the characters as seen in the famous 1939 film version of Baum's book.
Local legend has it that Oz, also known as The Emerald City, was inspired by a prominent castle-like building in the community of Castle Park near Holland, Michigan where Baum summered. The yellow brick road was derived from a road at that time paved by yellow bricks. These bricks were found in Peekskill, New York where Baum attended the Peekskill Military Academy. Baum scholars often reference the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (the "White City") as an inspiration for the Emerald City. Other legends allude that the inspiration came from the Hotel Del Coronado near San Diego, California. Baum was a frequent guest at the hotel, and had written several of the Oz books there. In a 1903 interview with Publishers Weekly, Baum said that the name "OZ" came from his file cabinet labeled "O-Z".
Another influence lay in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. A September 1900 review in the Grand Rapids Herald called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz a "veritable Alice in Wonderland brought up to the present day standard of juvenile literature". Although Baum found Carroll's plots incoherent, he identified their source of popularity as Alice herself, a child with whom the child readers could identify; this influenced his choice of a protagonist. Baum was also influenced by Carroll's belief that children's books should have many pictures and be pleasurable reads. Carroll rejected the Victorian-era ideology that children's books should be saturated with morals, instead believing that children should be allowed to be children. Building on Carroll's style of numerous images accompanying the text, Baum amalgamated the conventional features of a fairy tale (witches and wizards) with the well-known things in his readers' lives (scarecrows and cornfields).
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is considered the first American fairy tale because of its references to clear American locations like Kansas and Omaha. While agreeing with authors like Carroll about fantasy literature and its importance for children along with numerous illustrations, Baum also wanted to create a story that had recognizable American elements in it like farming and industrialization.
Many of the characters, props, and ideas in the novel were drawn from Baum's experiences. As a child, Baum frequently had nightmares of a scarecrow pursuing him across a field. Moments before the scarecrow's "ragged hay fingers" nearly gripped his neck, it would fall apart before his eyes. Decades later as an adult, Baum integrated his tormentor into the novel as the Scarecrow. According to his son Harry, the Tin Woodman was born from Baum's attraction to window displays. Because he wished to make something captivating for the window displays, he used an eclectic assortment of scraps to craft a striking figure. From a washboiler he made a body, from bolted stovepipes he made arms and legs, and from the bottom of a saucepan he made a face. Baum then placed a funnel hat on the figure, which ultimately became the Tin Woodman. John D. Rockefeller was the nemesis of Baum's father, an oil baron who declined to purchase Standard Oil shares in exchange for selling his own oil refinery. Baum scholar Evan I. Schwartz posited that Rockefeller inspired one of the Wizard of Oz's numerous faces. In one scene in the novel, the Wizard is seen as a "tyrannical, hairless head". When Rockefeller was 54 years old, the medical condition alopecia caused him to lose every strand of hair on his head, making people fearful of speaking to him.
In the early 1880s, when Baum's play Matches was being performed, a "flicker from a kerosene lantern sparked the rafters", causing the Baum opera house to be consumed by flames. Scholar Evan I. Schwartz suggested that this might have inspired the Scarecrow's severest terror: "There is only one thing in the world I am afraid of. A lighted match."
In 1890, while Baum lived in Aberdeen which was experiencing a drought, he wrote a witty story in his "Our Landlady" column in Aberdeen's The Saturday Pioneer. The story was about a farmer who gave green goggles to his horses, causing them to believe that the wood chips they were eating were pieces of grass. Similarly, the Wizard made the people in the Emerald City wear green goggles so that they would believe their city was built from emeralds. Baum, a former salesman of china, wrote in chapter 20 about china that had sprung to life.
During Baum's short stay in Aberdeen, the dissemination of myths about the plentiful West continued. However, the West, instead of being a wonderland, turned into a wasteland because of a drought and a depression. In 1891, Baum moved his family from South Dakota to Chicago. At that time, Chicago was getting ready for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. Scholar Laura Barrett stated that Chicago was "considerably more akin to Oz than to Kansas". After discovering that the myths about the West's incalculable riches were baseless, Baum created "an extension of the American frontier in Oz". In many respects, Baum's creation is similar to the actual frontier save for the fact that the West was still undeveloped at the time. The Munchkins Dorothy encounters at the beginning of the novel represent farmers, as do the Winkies she later meets.
Baum's wife frequently visited her niece, Dorothy Louise Gage. The infant became gravely sick and died on November 11, 1898, of "congestion of the brain" at exactly five months. When the baby, whom Maud adored as the daughter she never had, died, she was devastated and needed to consume medicine. To assuage her distress, Frank made his protagonist of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz a female named Dorothy. Uncle Henry was modeled after Henry Gage, his wife Maud's father. Bossed around by his wife Matilda, Henry rarely dissented with her. He flourished in business, though, and his neighbors looked up to him. Likewise, Uncle Henry was a "passive but hard-working man" who "looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke". The witches in the novel were influenced by witch-hunting research gathered by Baum's mother-in-law, Matilda. The stories of barbarous acts against accused witches scared Baum. Two key events in the novel involve wicked witches who both meet their death through metaphorical means.
Baum held different jobs, moved a lot, and was exposed to many people, so the inspiration for the story could have been taken from plenty of different aspects of his life. In the introduction to the story, Baum writes that “it aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heart-aches and nightmares are left out”  This is one of the explanations that he gives for the inspiration for the Wizard of Oz.
The original illustrator of the novel, W.W. Denslow, could have also had an impact on the story and the way it has been interpreted. Baum and Denslow had a close working relationship and worked together to create the presentation of the story through the images and the text. Color is an important element of the story and is present throughout the images with each chapter having a different color representation. Denslow also added characteristics to his drawings that Baum never described. For example, Denslow drew a house and the gates of The Emerald city with faces on them. In the later Oz books, John R. Neill, who illustrated all of the sequels, continued to include these faces on gates.
Baum did not offer any conclusive proof that he intended his novel to be a political allegory. Historian Ranjit S. Dighe wrote that for sixty years after the book's publication, "virtually nobody" had such an interpretation until Henry Littlefield, a high school teacher. In his 1964 American Quarterly article, "The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism", Littlefield posited that the book contained an allegory of the late 19th-century bimetallism debate regarding monetary policy. At the beginning of the novel, Dorothy is swept from her farm to Oz by a cyclone, which was frequently compared to the Free Silver movement in Baum's time. The Yellow Brick Road represents the gold standard and the Silver Shoes which enable Dorothy to travel more comfortably symbolizes the Populist Party's desire to construct a bimetallic standard of both gold and silver in place of the gold standard. She learns that to return home, she must reach the Emerald City, Oz's political center, to speak to the Wizard, representing the President of the United States. While journeying to the Emerald City, she encounters a scarecrow, who represents a farmer; a woodman made of tin, who represents a worker dehumanized by industrialization; and a cowardly lion, who represents William Jennings Bryan, a prominent leader of the Silverite movement. The villains of the story, the Wicked Witch of the West and the Wicked Witch of the East, represent the wealthy railroad and oil barons of the American West and the financial and banking interests of the eastern U.S. respectively. Both these groups opposed Populist efforts to move the U.S. to a bimetallic monetary standard since this would have devalued the dollar and made investments less valuable. Workers and poor farmers supported the move away from the gold standard as this would have lessened their crushing debt burdens. The Populist party sought to build a coalition of southern and midwestern tenant farmers and northern industrial workers. These groups are represented in the book by the Good Witches of the North and South. "Oz" is the abbreviated form of ounce, a standard measure of gold.
The Wizard of Oz has been an inspiration for many fantasy novels and films. It has been translated or adapted into well over fifty languages, at times being modified in local variations. For instance, in some abridged Indian editions, the Tin Woodman was replaced with a snake. In Russia, a translation by Alexander Melentyevich Volkov produced five books, The Wizard of the Emerald City series, which became progressively distanced from the Baum version, as Ellie and her dog Totoshka travel throughout the Magic Land.
In 1982, Philip José Farmer published A Barnstormer in Oz, whose main character, Hank Stover, is the son of Dorothy Gale. He finds himself transported to Oz after he flies his plane into an enormous green cloud, and finds he must resolve a civil war.
In 1992, Geoff Ryman's novel Was was published in the UK. It imagines three interwoven narratives, one of a real-life "Dorothy Gael" whose experiences are far from wonderful, a second loosely based on Judy Garland's own childhood, and a third a gay male actor who loves the 1939 film. Was was republished in 2014 by Small Beer Press.
In 1995, Gregory Maguire published Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, a revisionist look at the land and characters of Oz. Instead of depicting Dorothy, the novel focuses on Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West. The Independent characterized the novel as "an adult read reflecting on the nature of being an outcast, society's pressures to conform, and the effects of oppression and fascism". Universal Pictures, which bought the novel's rights, initially intended to make it into a film. Composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz convinced the company to make the novel into a musical instead. Schwartz wrote Wicked 's music and lyrics, and it premiered on Broadway in October 2003.
In 2014, characters Dorothy Gale and The Wicked Witch of the West made appearances in the episode "Slumber Party" from the ninth season of the TV series Supernatural. The ABC/Disney series Once Upon A Time also utilizes elements of the story with Dorothy and Glinda as background characters.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz received positive critical reviews upon release. In a September 1900 review, The New York Times praised the novel, writing that it would appeal to child readers and to younger children who could not read yet. The review also praised the illustrations for being a pleasant complement to the text.
During the first 50 years after The Wizard of Oz 's publication in 1900, it received little critical analysis from scholars of children's literature. According to Ruth Berman of Science Fiction Studies, the lists of suggested reading published for juvenile readers never contained Baum's work. The lack of interest stemmed from the scholars' misgivings about fantasy, as well as to their belief that lengthy series had little literary merit.
It has frequently come under fire over the years. In 1957, the director of Detroit's libraries banned The Wizard of Oz for having "no value" for children of today, for supporting "negativism", and for bringing children's minds to a "cowardly level". Professor Russel B. Nye of Michigan State University countered that "if the message of the Oz books—love, kindness, and unselfishness make the world a better place—seems of no value today", then maybe the time is ripe for "reassess[ing] a good many other things besides the Detroit library's approved list of children's books".
In 1986, seven Fundamentalist Christians families in Tennessee opposed the novel's inclusion in the public school syllabus and filed a lawsuit. They based their opposition to the novel on its depicting benevolent witches and promoting the belief that integral human attributes were "individually developed rather than God given". One parent said, "I do not want my children seduced into godless supernaturalism". Other reasons included the novel's teaching that females are equal to males and that animals are personified and can speak. The judge ruled that when the novel was being discussed in class, the parents were allowed to have their children leave the classroom.
Feminist author Margery Hourihan has described the book as a "banal and mechanistic story which is written in flat, impoverished prose".
Providing a twenty-first century perspective about the novel, Leonard Everett Fisher of The Horn Book Magazine wrote in 2000 that Oz has "a timeless message from a less complex era, and it continues to resonate". The challenge of valuing oneself during impending adversity has not, Fisher noted, lessened during the prior 100 years.
In a 2002 review, Bill Delaney of Salem Press praised Baum for giving children the opportunity to discover magic in the mundane things in their everyday lives. He further commended Baum for teaching "millions of children to love reading during their crucial formative years".
After George M. Hill's bankruptcy in 1902, copyright in the book passed to the Bobbs-Merrill Company. The editions they published lacked most of the in-text color and color plates of the original. It was not until the book entered the public domain in 1956 that new editions, either with the original color plates, or new illustrations, proliferated. Notable among them are the 1986 Pennyroyal edition illustrated by Barry Moser, which was reprinted by the University of California Press, and the 2000 Annotated Wizard of Oz edited by Michael Patrick Hearn, which was published by W.W. Norton and included all the original color illustrations, as well as supplemental artwork by Denslow. Other centennial editions included University Press of Kansas's Kansas Centennial Edition, illustrated by Michael McCurdy with black-and-white illustrations, and Robert Sabuda's pop-up book.
Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz without any thought of a sequel. After reading the novel, thousands of children wrote letters to him, requesting that he craft another story about Oz. In 1904, he wrote and published the first sequel, The Marvelous Land of Oz, explaining that he grudgingly wrote the sequel to address the popular demand. Baum also wrote sequels in 1907, 1908, and 1909. In his 1911 The Emerald City of Oz, he wrote that he could not continue writing sequels because Ozland had lost contact with the rest of the world. The children refused to accept this story, so Baum, in 1913 and every year thereafter until his death in May 1919, wrote an Oz book, ultimately writing 13 sequels. The Chicago Tribune 's Russell MacFall wrote that Baum explained the purpose of his novels in a note he penned to his sister, Mary Louise Brewster, in a copy of Mother Goose in Prose (1897), his first book. He wrote, "To please a child is a sweet and a lovely thing that warms one's heart and brings its own reward." After Baum's death in 1919, Baum's publishers delegated the creation of more sequels to Ruth Plumly Thompson who wrote 21. An original Oz book was published every Christmas between 1913 and 1942. By 1956, five million copies of the Oz books had been published in the English language, while hundreds of thousands had been published in eight foreign languages.
The Wizard of Oz has been adapted to other media numerous times, most famously in The Wizard of Oz, the 1939 film starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, and Bert Lahr. Prior to this version, the book had inspired a number of now-less-well-known stage and screen adaptations, including a profitable 1902 Broadway musical and three silent films. The 1939 film was considered innovative because of its songs, special effects, and revolutionary use of the new Technicolor.
The story has been translated into other languages (at least once without permission), and adapted into comics several times. Following the lapse of the original copyright, the characters have been adapted and reused in spin-offs, unofficial sequels, and reinterpretations, some of which have been controversial in their treatment of Baum's characters.
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