Tuesday, November 10, 2009

we're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of OZ!

L. Frank Baum (b.1856-1919) was the legendary author of the Oz Series, the most famous of those books being The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the first of the series and originally published in 1900. Baum went on to write 13 sequels as well as other various works. The L in L. Frank Baum, stands for Lyman, a family name that Baum disliked and so preferred to go by his middle name, Frank, instead.

Glinda of Oz was the final Oz book and was published a year after Baum's death in 1920. But the Oz series was continued long after his death by other various authors who wrote an additional 19 books.

Baum had many interests, including a fascination with theatre, and wrote plays as well as performed under the stage names, Louis F. Baum, and George Brooks. Once, when Baum was touring with a theatre in Richburg, NY, it caught fire and destroyed not only the theatre, but the only known copies of many of Baum's scripts, including, ironically, Matches, the title of the parlor-drama playing there.

I love these black and white illustrations from a 1956 series of the Oz books, published by The Reilly & Lee Co., in Chicago. For The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum worked with illustrator, W.W. Denslow. When the book came out in 1900, it was the best-selling children's book for two years after its initial publication. After 1904, and for the remainder of the Oz series, Baum worked primarily with illustrator, John R. Neill.

Baum declared that he had written his last Oz book several times during the development of the series, however, by popular demand and insistent letters from children, he was persuaded to return to it time and time again.

These are some of the illustrations from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Dorothy Gale looks quite different how she was originally imagined, compared to that of performer Judy Garland in MGM's 1939 movie.

Dorothy confronting the Wizard of Oz, and in a dreadful mess with the cowardly lion and the flying monkeys.

The book Ozma of Oz was mentioned by one of the editors at the conference I was at recently and it inspired me to go back and read some of the books from the Oz series. I remember the evil Wheelers from that book and how they scared me as a kid, and also the lunch boxes hanging from trees which Dorothy picked and ate.
What is your favorite Oz book?

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