The Library of Congress has declared it “America's greatest and best-loved homegrown fairy tale.” Its groundbreaking success, and that of the Broadway musical adapted from the novel led Baum to write thirteen additional Oz books that serve as official sequels to the first story.
In January 1901, George M. Hill Company completed printing the first edition, a total of 10,000 copies, which quickly sold out. It had sold three million copies by the time it entered the public domain in 1956.
1900 edition original back cover L. Frank Baum's story was published by George M. Hill Company. The first edition had a printing of 10,000 copies and was sold in advance of the publication date of September 1, 1900.
The public saw it for the first time at a book fair at the Palmer House in Chicago, July 5–20. Its copyright was registered on August 1; full distribution followed in September.
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 that 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 it into a musical stage play to publicize the novel. It was revised to suit adult preferences and was crafted as a “musical extravaganza,” with the costumes modeled after Den slow's drawings.
On her way down the yellow brick road, Dorothy attends a banquet held by a Munchkin named Box. The next day, she frees a Scarecrow from the pole on which he is hanging, applies oil from a can to the rusted joints of a Tin Woodman, and meets a Cowardly Lion.
He appears to Dorothy as a giant head, to the Scarecrow as a lovely lady, to the Tin Woodman as a terrible beast, and to the Lion as a ball of fire. He agrees to help them all if they kill the Wicked Witch of the West, who rules over Winnie Country.
The Wicked Witch of the West sees the travelers approaching with her one telescopic eye. She sends a pack of wolves to tear them to pieces, but the Tin Woodman kills them with his axe.
She sends a flock of wild crows to peck their eyes out, but the Scarecrow kills them by twisting their necks. She sends a dozen of her Winnie slaves to attack them, but the Lion stands firm to repel them.
Finally, she uses the power of her Golden Cap to send the Winged Monkeys to capture Dorothy, Toto, and the Lion, unstuff the Scarecrow, and dent the Tin Woodman. Angered, she throws a bucket of water at the witch and is shocked to see her melt away.
The Pinkies rejoice at being freed from her tyranny and help restaff the Scarecrow and mend the Tin Woodman. They ask the Tin Woodman to become their ruler, which he agrees to do after helping Dorothy return to Kansas.
Dorothy finds the witch's Golden Cap and summons the Winged Monkeys to carry her and her friends back to the Emerald City. The King of the Winged Monkeys tells how he and his band are bound by an enchantment to the cap by the sorceress Galette from the North, and that Dorothy may use it to summon them two more times.
He decides to take Dorothy and Toto home and then go back to Omaha in his balloon. At the send-off, he appoints the Scarecrow to rule in his stead, which he agrees to do after helping Dorothy return to Kansas.
Toto chases a kitten in the crowd and Dorothy goes after him, but the ropes holding the balloon break and the Wizard floats away. Dorothy summons the Winged Monkeys and tells them to carry her and Toto home, but they explain they can't cross the desert surrounding Oz.
The Soldier with the Green Whiskers informs Dorothy that Linda, the Good Witch of the South may be able to help her return home, so the travelers begin their journey to see Linda's castle in Quailing Country. On the way, the Lion kills a giant spider who is terrorizing the animals in a forest.
They ask him 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 a hill to Linda's castle.
Linda greets them and reveals that Dorothy's silver shoes can take her anywhere she wishes to go. She embraces her friends, all of whom will be returned to their new kingdoms through Linda's three uses of the Golden Cap: the Scarecrow to the Emerald City, the Tin Woodman to Winnie Country, and the Lion to the forest; after which the cap will be given to the King of the Winged Monkeys, freeing him and his band.
Dorothy takes Toto in her arms, knocks her heels together three times, and wishes to return home. Instantly, she begins whirling through the air and rolling on the grass of the Kansas prairie, up to the farmhouse, though the silver shoes fall off her feet en route and are lost in the Deadly Desert.
The book was illustrated by Baum's friend and collaborator W.W. Den slow, who also co-held the copyright. In September 1900, The Grand Rapids Herald wrote that Den slow's illustrations are “quite as much of the story as in the writing”.
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. Den slow'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.
Burdock has reported many similarities between her mother's homestead and the farm of Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. 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 lived during the summer.
The yellow brick road was derived from a road at that time paved by yellow bricks, located in Peek skill, New York, where Baum attended the Peek skill Military Academy. Other legends suggest 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 The Publishers' Weekly, Baum said that the name OZ came from his file cabinet labeled “O–Z”.
Some critics have suggested that Baum may have been inspired by Australia, a relatively new country at the time of the book's original publication. Like Australia, Oz is an island continent somewhere to the west of California with inhabited regions bordering on a great desert.
One might imagine that Baum intended Oz to be Australia, or perhaps a magical land in the center of the great Australian desert. 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”. Baum found Carroll's plots incoherent, but he identified the books' 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 to read. Building on Carroll's style of numerous images accompanying the text, Baum combined the conventional features of a fairy tale (witches and wizards) with the well-known things in his readers' lives (scarecrows and cornfields).
Baum agreed with authors such as Carroll that fantasy literature was important for children, along with numerous illustrations, but he also wanted to create a story that had recognizable American elements in it, such as farming and industrialization. While that sentiment is worthy, it overlooks several American fairy tales written by Washington Irving about the Catskills region of New York State.
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. He wished to make something captivating for the window displays, so he used an eclectic assortment of scraps to craft a striking figure.
Baum then placed a funnel hat on the figure, which ultimately became the Tin Woodman. Baum scholar Evan I. Schwartz posited that Rockefeller inspired one of the Wizard's numerous faces.
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. 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.
In 1890, Baum lived in Aberdeen, Dakota Territory, which was experiencing a drought, and he wrote a witty story in his “Our Landlady” column in Aberdeen's The Saturday Pioneer about a farmer who gave green goggles to his horses, causing them to believe that the wood chips that they were eating were pieces of grass. During Baum's short stay in Aberdeen, the dissemination of myths about the plentiful West continued.
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 Pinkies she later meets.
Baum's wife frequently visited her niece, Dorothy Louise Gage. The infant became gravely sick and died on November 11, 1898, from “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.
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.
The original illustrator of the novel, W.W. Den slow, could also have influenced the story and the way it has been interpreted. For example, Den slow 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 the sequels, continued to include these faces on gates. Another aspect is the Tin Woodman's funnel hat, which is not mentioned in the text until later books but appears in most artists' interpretation of the character, including the stage and film productions of 1902–09, 1908, 1910, 1914, 1925, 1931, 1933, 1939, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1992, and others.
Then, in a 1964 American Quarterly article entitled “The Wizard of Oz : Parable on Populism”, the American teacher Henry Little field posited that the book contained an allegory of the late 19th-century bimetallism debate regarding monetary policy. “The Winning of the Midwest” by Richard Jensen theorized that Oz was derived from the common abbreviation for “ounce”, used for denoting quantities of gold and silver.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has become an established part of multiple cultures, spreading from its early young American readership to becoming known throughout the world. 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 horse. In Russia, a translation by Alexander Melentyevich Volvo produced six books, The Wizard of the Emerald City series, which became progressively distanced from the Baum version, as Ellie and her dog Yokosuka travel throughout the Magic Land.
The same as the original Hebrew name of the Biblical Land of UZ, homeland of Job. Thus, for Hebrew readers, these translators' choice added a layer of Biblical connotations absent from the English original.
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 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.
During the first 50 years after The Wonderful 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. In 1957, the director of Detroit's libraries banned The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for having “no value” for children of his day, for supporting “negativism”, and for bringing children's minds to a “cowardly level”.
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”. 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. 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 Bowen-Merrill Company of Indianapolis, which published most of Baum's other books from 1901 to 1903 (Father Goose, His Book (reprint), The Magical Monarch of Mo (reprint), American Fairy Tales (reprint), Dot and Tot of Merry land (reprint), The Master Key, The Army Alphabet, The Navy Alphabet, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, The Enchanted Island of Yew, The Songs of Father Goose) initially under the title The New Wizard of Oz.
The word “New” was quickly dropped in subsequent printings, leaving the now-familiar shortened title, “The Wizard of Oz, ” and some minor textual changes were added, such as to “yellow daises,” and changing a chapter title from “The Rescue” to “How the Four Were Reunited.” When Baum filed for bankruptcy after his critically and popularly successful film and stage production The Decalogue and Radio-Plays failed to make back its production costs, Baum lost the rights to all the books published by what was now called Bobbs-Merrill, and they were licensed to the M.A.
Donahue Company, which printed them in significantly cheaper “blotting paper” editions with advertising that directly competed with Baum's more recent books, published by the Reilly & Britton Company, from which he was making his living, explicitly hurting sales of The Patchwork Girl of Oz, the new Oz book for 1913, to boost sales of Wizard, which Donahue called in a full-page ad in The Publishers' Weekly (June 28, 1913), Baum's “one pre-eminently great Juvenile Book.” Reilly lamented that the average buyer employed by a retail store would not understand why he should be expected to spend 75 cents for a copy of TikTok of Oz when he could buy a copy of Wizard for between 33 and 36 cents.
Baum had previously written a letter complaining about the Donahue deal, which he did not know about until it was fait accompli, and one of the investors who held The Wizard of Oz rights had inquired why the royalty was only five or six cents per copy, depending on quantity sold, which made no sense to Baum. A new edition from Bobbs-Merrill in 1949 illustrated by Evelyn Coleman, again titled The New Wizard of Oz, paid lip service to Den slow but was based strongly, apart from the Lion, on the MGM movie.
Coleman had illustrated a new edition of The Magical Monarch of Mo two years earlier. 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.
A revised version of Coleman's artwork was published in a Grossed & Dunlap edition, and Reilly & Lee (formerly Reilly & Britton) published an edition in line with the Oz sequels, which had previously treated The Land of Oz as the first Oz book, not having the publication rights to Wizard, with new illustrations by Dale Ulna. Ulna had previously illustrated Jack Snow's Jason and the Tiger-Faries, an expansion of a Baum short story, The Story of Jason, ” and a 1955 edition of The Tin Woodman of Oz, though both sold poorly.
Baum wrote The Wonderful 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.
He dedicated the book to Montgomery & Stone and wrote large roles for the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman that he deleted from the stage version, The Woggle-Bug, after the team balked at leaving a successful show to do a sequel. In his 1910 The Emerald City of Oz, he wrote that he could not continue writing sequels because Oz land 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 and half a dozen Oz short stories. The Chicago Tribune's Russell McCall 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.” The story has been translated into other languages (at least once without permission, resulting in Alexander Volkov's The Wizard of the Emerald City novel and its sequels, which were translated into English by Sergei Sukarno) and adapted into comics several times.
In 2020, an Esperanto translation of the novel was used by a team of scientists to demonstrate a new method for encoding text in DNA which remains readable after repeated copying. In 2018, “The Lost Art of Oz project was initiated to locate and catalog the surviving original artwork John R. Neill, W.W. Den slow, Frank Kramer, Richard 'Dirk' Griffin and Dick Martin created to illustrate the Oz book series.
NotesFootnotes ^ The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum with Pictures by W. W. Den slow. “He created 'The Wizard ': L. Frank Baum, Whose Oz Books Have Gladdened Millions, Was Born 100 Years Ago Tuesday” (PDF).
^ Children's Literature Research Collection | University of Minnesota Libraries ^ a b Baum, L. Frank ; Here, Michael Patrick (1973). “Erikson: North Dakota girl was the likely inspiration for Dorothy in 'The Wizard of Oz “.
^ To See The Wizard : Oz on Stage and Film Archived April 5, 2011, at the Payback Machine. ^ a b Abrams & Zimmer 2010, p. 105 ^ Culver 1988, p. 97 Nathanson 1991, p. 301 Fisher, Leonard Everett (2000).
Citing letters in the L. Frank Baum Papers, Lilly Library, Indiana University. ^ See various photographs of promotional materials in David L. Greene and Dick Martin.
Joe Fans: A Biography of the First African American World Boxing Champion. “From Wonderland to Wasteland: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Great Gatsby, and the New American Fairy Tale”.
“What Manikins Want: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Art of Decorating Dry Goods Windows”. The Historian's Wizard of Oz : Reading L. Frank Baum's Classic as a Political and Monetary Allegory.
“The Wizard of Oz as a Monetary Allegory,” Journal of Political Economy 98 (1990): 739–60 online at JSTOR Rogers, Katharine M. (2002). Finding Oz : how L. Frank Baum discovered the Great American story.
The Wizard of Oz catalog: L. Frank Baum's novel, its sequels and their adaptations for stage, television, movies, radio, music videos, comic books, commercials and more. Verde, Francois R. “Following the Yellow Brick Road: How the United States Adopted the Gold Standard” Economic Perspectives.
This audio file was created from a revision of this article dated 8 January 2006 (2006-01-08), and does not reflect subsequent edits.