The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Wizard title page.jpg
Original title page
AuthorL. Frank Baum
IllustratorW. W. Denslow
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Oz Books
GenreFantasy Children's novel
PublisherGeorge M. Hill Company
Publication date
May 17, 1900
Followed byThe Marvelous Land of Oz
Jump to: navigation, search
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Wizard title page.jpg
Original title page
AuthorL. Frank Baum
IllustratorW. W. Denslow
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Oz Books
GenreFantasy Children's novel
PublisherGeorge M. Hill Company
Publication date
May 17, 1900
Followed byThe 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 more 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, the publisher, completed printing the first edition, which totaled 10,000 copies.

1900 first edition cover, George M. Hill, Chicago, New York.
Back cover.


Born on May 16, 1856, in a frame house in Chittenango, New York, Lyman Frank Baum was the seventh child of Cynthia Stanton and Benjamin Ward Baum, an affluent oil baron.[1] Raised in Rose Lawn, the Baum country property on the outskirts of Syracuse, Baum had a sheltered upbringing. As a child, he was extremely bashful and was diagnosed with a deficient heart.[2][3] Baum spent considerable time playing with his imaginary friends and reading books.[3] When he was 15 years old, he and Harry, a younger brother, produced The Rose Lawn Home Journal.[4] When he was 18 years old, Baum spent much time around local theaters and hoped to pursue acting. Though his father initially opposed his dream he later capitulated. Baum traveled through different states and worked at various jobs to support his acting career.[5][nb 2]

In 1882, Baum married Maud Gage, daughter of suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage. His new mother-in-law believed that Baum was idealistic and wrote in a letter that he was "a perfect baby". However, she encouraged him to put to paper the many tales he had related to his sons for many years. Maud Gage, a practical woman, served as a foil to Baum. She was consistent and wary of their finances, complementing her husband, an imaginative dreamer.[3]

Despite his reputation for being a progressive thinker because of his support for women's suffrage and writing the story "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" with a female protagonist, Baum wrote numerous racist remarks about Native Americans. While he lived in Aberdeen, South Dakota, he wrote a column for their newspaper called "Our Landlady" and made fun of the practices of the Lakota and Sioux tribes. He previously claimed that bigotry was intolerable, but his writings show otherwise. He was later concerned about the town of Aberdeen's being invaded by the Natives, still afraid of another incident like the Battle of the Little Bighorn fourteen years after it happened.[6]


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.[7] By October 1900, the first edition had already sold out and the second edition of 15,000 copies was nearly depleted.[8]

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 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, at Hamlin's Grand Opera House. 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."[9] 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.[9]

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.[10]

By 1938, over one million copies of the book had been printed.[11] Less than two decades later, in 1956, the sales of his novel grew to 3 million copies in print.[9]

Plot summary[edit]

Dorothy is a young orphaned girl raised by her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em 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 inside their farmhouse which was deposited in a field in Munchkin Country, the eastern quadrant of the Land of Oz. The falling house kills the evil ruler of the Munchkins, the Wicked Witch of the East, for which the Munchkins are extremely grateful.

The Good Witch of the North comes with the 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" or "City of Emeralds" 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 road of yellow bricks, 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, and encourages the two of them, including the Cowardly Lion, 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 finds many adventures on their journey, including overcoming obstacles such as 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 someone or something different. Dorothy sees the Wizard as a giant head, Scarecrow sees the Wizard as a beautiful woman, 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 each the Wicked Witch of the West, who rules over the western Winkie Country, is killed. 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 and sends forces to kill them. First, she sends her 40 great wolves and the Tin Woodman manages to kill them all with his axe. Second, she then sends her 40 crows to peck their eyes out and the Scarecrow manages to kill them by breaking their necks. Third, she summons a swarm of black bees to sting them but the Tin Woodman serves as a buffer sitting atop the Scarecrow's extra straw that hide the other three. Fourth, she has her Winkie soldiers attack them but the Cowardly Lion's stance repeals them. Finally, she uses the power of the Golden Cap to have the winged monkeys capture Dorothy, Toto and the Cowardly Lion, and immobilize the others by un-stuffing the Scarecrow and denting the Tin Woodman. This plan is successful and the survivors are carried to the Witch.

The Wicked Witch forces Dorothy to do housework for the castle, all the while scheming to steal Dorothy's magical shoes. The Lion is locked up without food until he will submit to being a pack animal; Dorothy sneaks him food at night.

The Wicked Witch melts, from the W. W. Denslow illustration of the first edition (1900).

The Wicked Witch tricks Dorothy out of one of her silver shoes and Dorothy in anger throws at the Wicked Witch a bucket of water. Dorothy is shocked to see the Witch melt away. The Winkies rejoice at being freed of the witch's tyranny and they help restuff the Scarecrow and mend the Tin Woodman. The Winkies love the Tin Woodman, and they ask him to become their ruler, which he agrees to do after helping Dorothy return to Kansas.

Dorothy, after finding and learning how to use the Golden Cap, 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 were bound by an enchantment to the cap by the sorceress Gayelette.

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 is found to an ordinary old man who, by a hot air balloon, long ago came to Oz from Omaha and has longed to return to his home and again work in a circus.

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 realizes that he will have to take them home with him as he has been growing tired of being cooped up all the time, and wanting to return to circus work. He and Dorothy make from green silk a new balloon.

At the send off he reveals himself to the people of the Emerald City one last time and appoints the Scarecrow, by virtue of his brains, to rule in his stead. Dorothy goes after Toto as he chases a kitten in the crowd. She attempts to return to the balloon, the tethers break, and the Wizard floats away.

Dorothy turns to the Winged Monkeys to carry her and Toto home, but they cannot cross the desert surrounding Oz, subsequently wasting her second wish. The Soldier with the Green Whiskers advises that Glinda, 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 and he agrees to return there to rule them after Dorothy returns to Kansas. Dorothy uses her third wish to fly over the Hammer-Heads' mountain, almost losing Toto in the process.

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. Then she will give the Golden Cap to the King of the Winged Monkeys, so they will never be under its spell again. Having bid 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.

Illustration and design[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14]

A new edition of the book appeared in 1944, with illustrations by Evelyn Copelman.[15] 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, starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, and Bert Lahr.[16]


Baum explores the theme of self-contradiction in The Wizard of Oz.[17] The Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion all lack self-confidence. The Scarecrow believes that he has no brains, though he comes up with clever solutions to several problems that they encounter on their journey. The Tin Woodman believes that he lacks a heart, but is moved to tears when misfortune befalls the various creatures they meet. The Cowardly Lion believes that he has no courage even though he is consistently brave through their journey. Carl L. Bankston III of Salem Press noted that "These three characters embody the classical human virtues of intelligence, caring, and courage, but their self-doubts keep them from being reduced to mere symbols of these qualities."[17]

By the end of the novel, the characters attain self-fulfillment when they have met their objectives. To convince the characters they have the qualities they desire, the Wizard places an amalgamation of bran, pins, and needles in the Scarecrow's head to inspire intellect; gives a silk heart to the Tin Woodman to inspire love; and a drink to the Cowardly Lion to inspire bravery.[17]

The character of the wizard supports the theme of self-belief and how important it is. Dorothy and her companions believed the wizard to be powerful and even when they found out that he wasn’t, they continued to ask him to grant them their wishes. Baum biographer Rebecca Loncraine points out that the story is a critique of power and shows how “easily people who lack belief in themselves can become willing participants in the deceptions practiced by manipulative figures who rule over them” [18]

Sources of images and ideas[edit]

Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, from the first edition.

Baum acknowledged the influence of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, which he was deliberately revising in his "American fairy tales" to include the wonder without the horrors.[19]

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.[20] In a 1903 interview with Publishers Weekly,[3] Baum said that the name "OZ" came from his file cabinet labeled "O-Z".[21]

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland[edit]

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".[12] 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.[19] 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).[22]

American fantasy story[edit]

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.[23]

Personal life[edit]

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.[24] 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.[25] 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.[26]

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 posited that this may have inspired the Scarecrow's severest terror: "There is only one thing in the world I am afraid of. A lighted match."[27]

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.[28] 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.[29] Baum, a former salesman of china, wrote in chapter 20 about china that had sprung to life.[29]

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.[30]

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.[31] To assuage her distress, Frank made his protagonist of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz a female named Dorothy.[32] 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".[33] 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.[34]

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.[35] 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” [36] This is one of the explanations that he gives for the inspiration for the Wizard of Oz.

Influence of Denslow[edit]

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.[37]

The Gold Standard representation of the story[edit]

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.[38] In his 1964 American Quarterly article, "The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism",[39] Littlefield posited that the book contained an allegory of the late 19th-century bimetallism debate regarding monetary policy.[40] 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.[39] 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.[39] 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.[41] 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.[42]

Littlefield's thesis achieved some popular interest and elaboration[43] but is not taken seriously by literary historians.[citation needed] Littlefield's argument was taken seriously by the 1980s by many political scientists but has since been refuted.[44][45] Ellen Brown in her book, Web of Debt (2007), examines the literary allusion to money creation in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and starts each chapter with a quote from Baum's book.[46][47]

Cultural impact[edit]

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.[48] 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 1967, The Seekers recorded "Emerald City", with lyrics about a visit there, set to the melody of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".

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".[49] 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.[49]

Many of these draw more directly on the 1939 film adaptation, a now-classic of popular culture shown annually on American television from 1959 to 1991, and shown several times a year every year beginning in 1999.[50]

In 2014, characters Dorothy Gale and The Wicked Witch 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.

Critical response[edit]

This last story of The Wizard is ingeniously woven out of commonplace material. It is of course an extravaganza, but will surely be found to appeal strongly to child readers as well as to the younger children, to whom it will be read by mothers or those having charge of the entertaining of children. There seems to be an inborn love of stories in child minds, and one of the most familiar and pleading requests of children is to be told another story.

The drawing as well as the introduced color work vies with the texts drawn, and the result has been a book that rises far above the average children's book of today, high as is the present standard.


The book has a bright and joyous atmosphere, and does not dwell upon killing and deeds of violence. Enough stirring adventure enters into it, however, to flavor it with zest, and it will indeed be strange if there be a normal child who will not enjoy the story.

The New York Times, September 8, 1900[51]

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.[51]

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.[52]

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".[53]

In 1986, seven Fundamentalist Christians families in Tennessee opposed the novel's inclusion in the public school syllabus and filed a lawsuit.[54][55] 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".[55] One parent said, "I do not want my children seduced into godless supernaturalism".[56] 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.[54]

Feminist author Margery Hourihan has described the book as a "banal and mechanistic story which is written in flat, impoverished prose".[57]

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.[58]

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".[22]


Baum's novel has been adapted and retold numerous times. In some cases, the adaptations bear only a slight semblance to the original edition.[59] By its centennial, the novel had been translated into 22 languages such as Swahili, Tamil and Serbo-Croatian.[5]

To celebrate the centennial of the book's publication, the University Press of Kansas published a new edition titled The Kansas Centennial Edition. Illustrated by Michael McCurdy, the black-and-white pictures spanned 24 full pages. Andrew Karp of Utopian Studies critiqued the illustrations as being "stunningly detailed" but "somber, sharp-edged, and stark". Whereas W.W. Denslow's illustrations in the first edition portrayed Dorothy and her friends as exuding warmth, McCurdy's depicted Dorothy as "plain, dumpy, even ugly" and her friends as frightened. Karp concluded that the centennial edition, because it is considerably dismal, more resembles the beginning of the 1939 MGM movie than Baum's first edition.[60] Robert Sabuda created a pop-up book to commemorate the book's centennial. Baum scholar Michael Patrick Hearn called the book a "fond tribute" to W. W. Denslow and an "inventive interpretation" of Baum's novel. Sabuda used Denslow's first edition illustrations as "color linoleum cuts" and improved upon them by portraying the features that Denslow failed to capture.[61]

The 2002 Sterling Publishing edition of the novel was illustrated by Michael Foreman with bright watercolors. Reviewer Heide Piehler of School Library Journal applauded Foreman for his "skillful command of color and light to emphasize the story's sense of adventure and enchantment". Piehler also admired the "subtle humorous details", including the winged monkeys' adorned with "Red Baron-style goggles". In her generally favorable review, she critiqued Foreman's depiction of a normal Dorothy as a "disappointment".[59]


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.[62] 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."[9] After Baum's death in 1919, Baum's publishers delegated the creation of more sequels to Ruth Plumly Thompson who wrote 21.[22] An original Oz book was published every Christmas between 1913 and 1942.[5] 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.[9]


Judy Garland as Dorothy discovering that she and Toto are no longer in Kansas

The Wizard of Oz has been adapted to other media numerous times, most famously in the 1939 film starring Judy Garland. 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.[63]

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.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Baum uses the word cyclone, then proceeds to describe a tornado.
  2. ^ To support himself, Baum initially took jobs as a newspaper reporter and a dry goods salesman. Later becoming a playwright, Baum wrote The Maid of Arran, an Irish melodrama, which was his sole success. He was the leading role, Louis F. Baum, in the play, which debuted on the day he turned 26.[5]
  1. ^ Rogers 2002, p. 1
  2. ^ Rogers 2002, p. 3
  3. ^ a b c d Mendelsohn, Ink (May 24, 1986). "As a piece of fantasy, Baum's life was a working model". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  4. ^ Rogers 2002, p. 4
  5. ^ a b c d Watson, Bruce (2000). "The Amazing Author of Oz". Smithsonian (Smithsonian Institution) 31 (3): 112. ISSN 0037-7333. 
  6. ^ Schwartz, 2007 p. 162,178.
  7. ^ Katharine M. Rogers, L. Frank Baum, pp. 73–94.
  8. ^ "Notes and News". The New York Times. October 27, 1900. Archived from the original on December 3, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-03. 
  9. ^ a b c d e MacFall, Russell (May 13, 1956). "He created 'The Wizard': L. Frank Baum, Whose Oz Books Have Gladdened Millions, Was Born 100 Years Ago Tuesday" (PDF). Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on November 28, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  10. ^ Sweet, Oney Fred (February 20, 1944). "Tells How Dad Wrote 'Wizard of Oz' Stories" (PDF). Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on November 28, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  11. ^ Verdon, Michael (1991). The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Salem Press. 
  12. ^ a b "New Fairy Stories: "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by Authors of "Father Goose."" (PDF). Grand Rapids Herald. September 16, 1900. Archived from the original on February 2, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  13. ^ Bloom 1994, p. 9
  14. ^ Starrett, Vincen (May 2, 1954). "The Best Loved Books" (PDF). Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on November 28, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  15. ^ The Annotated Wizard of Oz: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - Lyman Frank Baum - Google Books
  16. ^ Children's Literature Research Collection | University of Minnesota Libraries
  17. ^ a b c Bankston, Carl L. III (March 2000). The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Salem Press. 
  18. ^ Loncraine, Rebecca. "The Real Wizard of Oz The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum". New York, Penguin Group, 2005, p. 179.
  19. ^ a b Baum, L. Frank; Hearn, Michael Patrick (1973). The Annotated Wizard of Oz. New York: C.N. Potter. p. 38. ISBN 0-517-50086-8. OCLC 800451. 
  20. ^ The Writer's Muse: L. Frank Baum and the Hotel del Coronado
  21. ^ Schwartz 2009, p. 273
  22. ^ a b c Delaney, Bill (March 2002). The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Salem Press. Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  23. ^ Riley, MIchael. "Oz and Beyond, The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum". Lawrence, University of Kansas Press, 1997, p. 51.
  24. ^ Gourley 1999, p. 7
  25. ^ Carpenter & Shirley 1992, p. 43
  26. ^ Schwartz 2009, pp. 87–89
  27. ^ Schwartz 2009, p. 75
  28. ^ Culver 1988, p. 102
  29. ^ a b Hansen 2002, p. 261
  30. ^ Barrett 2006, pp. 154–155
  31. ^ Taylor, Moran & Sceurman 2005, p. 208
  32. ^ Wagman-Geller 2008, pp. 39–40
  33. ^ Schwartz 2009, p. 95
  34. ^ Schwartz 2009, pp. 97–98
  35. ^ Schwartz, 2009, p.xiv.
  36. ^ Baum,Lyman Frank. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". Harpers Collins, 2000, p. 5.
  37. ^ Riley 1997, p.42.
  38. ^ Dighe 2002, p. x
  39. ^ a b c Dighe 2002, p. 2
  40. ^ Littlefield 1964, p. 50
  41. ^ Hansen 2002, p. 255
  42. ^ Littlefield 1964, p. 55
  43. ^ Setting the Standards on the Road to Oz, Mitch Sanders, The Numismatist, July 1991, pp 1042–1050
  44. ^ David B. Parker, "The Rise and Fall of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a Parable on Populism," Journal of the Georgia Association of Historians, 15 (1994), pp. 49–63.
  45. ^ "Responses to Littlefield – The Wizard of Oz". Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  46. ^ Brown, J.D., Ellen Hodgson. The Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free. Third Millennium Press. Fifth Edition Revised and Updated January 2012. ISBN 978-0-9833308-5-1. 
  47. ^ "Web of Debt". 
  48. ^ Rutter, Richard (July 2000). (Speech). Indiana Memorial Union, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  49. ^ a b Christie, Nicola (August 17, 2006). "Wicked: tales of the witches of Oz". The Independent. Archived from the original on February 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-26. 
  50. ^ To See The Wizard: Oz on Stage and Film. Library of Congress, 2003.
  51. ^ a b "Books and Authors" (PDF). The New York Times. September 8, 1900. pp. BR12–13. Archived from the original on November 26, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-26. 
  52. ^ Berman 2003, p. 504
  53. ^ Vincent, Starrett (May 12, 1957). "L. Frank Baum's Books Alive" (PDF). Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on November 28, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  54. ^ a b Abrams & Zimmer 2010, p. 105
  55. ^ a b Culver 1988, p. 97
  56. ^ Nathanson 1991, p. 301
  57. ^ Houihan, Margaret. Deconstructing the Hero. p. 209. ISBN 0-415-14186-9. OCLC 36582073. 
  58. ^ Fisher, Leonard Everett (2000). "Future Classics: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". The Horn Book Magazine (Library Journals) 76 (6): 739. ISSN 0018-5078. 
  59. ^ a b Piehler, Heide (December 2005). "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". School Library Journal (Reed Business Information) 51 (12): 100. ISSN 0362-8930. 
  60. ^ Karp, Andrew (2000). "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Book Review)". Utopian Studies (Penn State University Press) 11 (1): 142. ISSN 1045-991X. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  61. ^ Hearn, Michael Patrick (2000). "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A Commemorative Pop-up Review". The Horn Book Magazine (Library Journals) 76 (5): 547. ISSN 0018-5078. 
  62. ^ Littlefield 1964, pp. 47–48
  63. ^ Twiddy, David (September 23, 2009). "'Wizard of Oz' goes hi-def for 70th anniversary". The Florida Times-Union. Associated Press. Archived from the original on February 13, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 

External links[edit]

The Oz books
Previous book:
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Next book:
The Marvelous Land of Oz