World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Original title page
Author L. Frank Baum
Illustrator W. W. Denslow
Country United States
Language English
Series The Oz books
Genre Fantasy, children's novel
Publisher George M. Hill Company
Publication date
May 17, 1900
OCLC 9506808
Followed by The Marvelous Land of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a 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.

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


  • Publication 1
  • Plot summary 2
  • Illustration and design 3
  • Sources of images and ideas 4
    • The land of Oz and other locations 4.1
    • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 4.2
    • American fantasy story 4.3
    • Baum's personal life 4.4
    • Influence of Denslow 4.5
    • Allusions to 19th-century America 4.6
  • Cultural impact 5
  • Critical response 6
  • Editions 7
  • Sequels 8
  • Adaptations 9
  • See also 10
  • Notes and references 11
  • External links 12


The book was published by the Palmer House in Chicago, July 5–20. The book's copyright was registered on August 1; full distribution followed in September.[1] By October 1900, the first edition had already sold out and the second edition of 15,000 copies was nearly depleted.[2]

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, David C. 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."[3] 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.[3]

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.[4]

By 1938, over one million copies of the book had been printed.[5] Less than two decades later, in 1956, the sales of his novel had grown to 3 million copies in print.[3]

Plot summary

Dorothy Gale is a young girl who lives with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry and her little dog Toto on a Kansas farm. One day, Dorothy and Toto are caught up in a cyclone that deposits her farmhouse into Munchkin Country in the magical Land of Oz. The falling house has killed the Wicked Witch of the East, the evil ruler of the Munchkins. The Good Witch of the North arrives with the grateful Munchkins and gives Dorothy the Silver Shoes that once belonged to the witch. The Good Witch tells Dorothy that the only way she can return home is to go to the Emerald City and ask the great and powerful Wizard of Oz to help her. As Dorothy embarks on her journey, the Good Witch of the North kisses her on the forehead, giving her magical protection from fatal harm.

On her way down the yellow brick road, Dorothy attends a banquet held by a Munchkin man named Boq. The next day, 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 a brain, the Tin Woodman wants a heart, and the Cowardly Lion wants courage. All four believe that the Wizard can solve their troubles. When the travelers finally arrive at the gates of the Emerald City, they are asked by the Guardian of the Gates to wear green tinted spectacles to keep their eyes from being blinded by the city's brilliance. As each one is called to see the Wizard, Dorothy sees the Wizard as a giant head on a marble throne, the Scarecrow as a lovely lady in silk gauze, the Tin Woodman as a terrible beast, and the Cowardly Lion as a ball of fire. The Wizard agrees to help them all if they kill the Wicked Witch of the West, who rules over Oz's Winkie Country. The Guardian warns them that no one has ever managed to defeat the witch.

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 wild crows to peck their eyes out, but the Scarecrow kills them by breaking their necks. She summons a swarm of black bees to sting them, but they are killed trying to sting the Tin Woodman while the Scarecrow's straw hides the other three. She sends her Winkie soldiers to attack them, but the Cowardly Lion stands firm to repel them. Finally, she uses the power of the Golden Cap to send the winged monkeys to capture Dorothy, Toto, and the Cowardly Lion, unstuff the Scarecrow, and dent the Tin Woodman. Dorothy is forced to become the witch's personal slave, who schemes to steal Dorothy's Silver Shoes.

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

The Wicked Witch successfully tricks Dorothy out of one of her Silver Shoes. Angered, Dorothy throws a bucket of water at her, and is shocked to see the witch melt away. The Winkies rejoice at being freed of the witch's tyranny and help restuff 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 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, Toto tips over a screen in a corner of the throne room that reveals 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. The Wizard decides to take Dorothy and Toto home and leave the Emerald City. At the send off, 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 informs Dorothy that Glinda the Good Witch of the South may be able to help her return home. The friends journey to see Glinda, who lives in Oz's Quadling Country, and on the way 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 a mountain to Glinda's palace. Glinda greets the travelers and reveals that the Silver Shoes Dorothy wears can take her anywhere she wishes to go. Dorothy embraces her friends, all of whom will be returned to their new kingdoms through Glinda's use of the Golden Cap: the Scarecrow to the Emerald City, the Tin Woodman to the Winkie Country, and the Lion to the forest. Dorothy knocks her heels together three times and wishes to return home. When she opens her eyes, Dorothy and Toto have returned to Kansas.

Illustration and design

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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8]

A new edition of the book appeared in 1944, with illustrations by Evelyn Copelman.[9] 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.[10]

Sources of images and ideas

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.[11]

The land of Oz and other locations

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.[12] In a 1903 interview with Publishers Weekly,[13] Baum said that the name "OZ" came from his file cabinet labeled "O-Z".[14]

Some critics have speculated and suggested that Baum may have been inspired by Australia, a relatively new country at the time of the book's publication. Australia is often colloquially spelt or referred to as "Oz". Furthermore, in Ozma of Oz (1907), Dorothy gets back to Oz as the result of a storm at sea while she and Uncle Henry are travelling by ship to Australia. So, like Australia, Oz is somewhere to the west of California. Like Australia, Oz is an island continent. Like Australia, Oz has inhabited regions bordering on a great desert. One might almost imagine that Baum intended Oz to be Australia, or perhaps a magical land in the center of the great Australian desert.[15]

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

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".[6] 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.[11] 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).[16]

American fantasy story

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.[17]

Baum's personal life

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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20]

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."[21]

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.[22] 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.[23]

Baum, a former salesman of china, wrote in chapter 20 about china that had sprung to life.[23]

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.[24]

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.[25] To assuage her distress, Frank made his protagonist of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz a female named Dorothy.[26] 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".[27] 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.[28]

Baum held different jobs, moved a lot, and was exposed to many people, so the inspiration for the story could have been taken from many different aspects of his life.[29] 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"[30] This is one of the explanations that he gives for the inspiration for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Influence of Denslow

The original illustrator of the novel, W.W. Denslow, could also have 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.[31]

Allusions to 19th-century America

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.[32] In his 1964 American Quarterly article, "The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism",[33] Littlefield posited that the book contained an allegory of the late 19th-century bimetallism debate regarding monetary policy.[34]

Not only did Baum draw inspiration from the American land around him, but he also created Oz to display an American utopia where the issues of day were solved. There is little distinction between utopia and fairy tale land.[35] Baum believed that the imagination was the best tool for creating a striving society. In a later book in the Oz series, Baum writes, "imaginations and dreams are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to create, to invent and therefore to foster civilization."[36] In this way, Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a modern fairy tale depicting Oz as an American utopia that displays numerous allusion and solutions to issues in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The realm of Oz very closely resembles America. It contains four countries, the Land of the North, East, West, and South, and the national capital, the Emerald City. America and its inhabitants are often divided into similar categories such as Midwestern, Southern, etc. These locations are also separated by an American color scheme that was relevant to American during the 19th century.[37] The color blue represents the industrial East known for the blue-collar jobs. The South is red for the red earth it contains or the "redneck" inhabitants. Yellow describes the West denoting the California gold rush. Finally, the Emerald City as Washington D. C. denoting greenbacks and money of the country.

The villains of the story are the Wicked Witch of the West and the Wicked Witch of the East. The wicked witches are more powerful than the good witches and they use their power to control and enslave their subjects. There was an equal balance between good and evil and until this balance was altered there could be no change or development in Oz. This standoff can be seen as an allusion between the different political parties in America. The Wicked Witch of the West represents the American West, including the wealthy railroad, oil barons and nature. The American West's greatest weapon in the 19th century, though, was nature, most malignantly the drought. The effects lasted longer than any fire or twister and a long enough drought could ruin a whole year's worth of crops. Thus, water as the weapon to kill the Witch of the West is quite poetic. The brown mass the witch's remains turn into resembles mud after a heavy storm. Dorothy even cleans the melted witch off the floor and her shoes as if she had walked through a rainy puddle.

Baum's Wicked Witch of the East has been suggested to represent Eastern financial and industrial interests, such as Wall Street, which oppresses the agricultural citizens.[38] The Witch of the East enslaved her subjects much as industrialism was thought to enslave the working class in 19th-century Eastern America. Once Dorothy killed the Wicked Witch of the East the balance of power could be shifted. 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.

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.[33] 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. "Oz" is the abbreviated form of ounce, a standard measure of gold.[39] When Dorothy and the Scarecrow walk through the forest, the road begins to be rough and patchy causing the Scarecrow to trip and fall numerous times. The Scarecrow's falls on the Yellow Brick Road resemble the damage farmers faced owing to deflation caused by the scarcity of gold. Dorothy however, simply "walks around" the holes in the road showing that the bimetallic standard works. Even when gold was scarce, the other metal in the bimetal system would be relatively cheap therefore one bypasses deflation.[40] Throughout the book, most of the characters do not know the magic behind the silver shoes. It is not until Dorothy meets Glinda, the good Witch of the South, that she finds out that the silver shoes have had the power to transfer her back to Kansas all along. Baum is possibly alluding to the fact that the bimetallic standard has been a working solution to the economic crisis all along, though no one knows how to do it. Once Dorothy clicks her heels three times, she returns to Kansas where she realizes "The Silver Shoes had fallen off in her flight through the air, and were lost forever in the desert." The silver shoes were lost, much like the fight for the bimetallic standard, which began to fade away in 1900.

The Wizard is the national leader of Oz, thus it is fitting for him to symbolize the President(s) of the United States during the 19th century.[38] Politicians have been known to have many faces; it is a must if they want to be able to be everything for everyone. The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz agrees to meet with each traveler separately, allowing him to alter his appearance to best fit each character. When the gang returns having completed the Wizard's task, they discover that the Wizard is a fake and is actually just "a common man" who has made everyone believe he was powerful. The Scarecrow adds that he is a humbug, in which the Wizard gladly says that is he is exactly that. The Wizard made promises he could not keep, as did many 19th-century politicians, like present ones today. The Wizard later states, "How can I help being a humbug… when all these people make me do things that everyone knows can't be done," showing that he was able to deceive others because others were willing to be deceived.

While journeying to the Emerald City, Dorothy encounters a scarecrow, who represents a farmer. The Scarecrow believes he is a fool since his head is full of straw and not brains. Four years before the book's release, William Allen White, a journalist from Chicago, published an article entitled "What's the Matter With Kansas?" In the article White questions why Kansas is unsatisfied and sarcastically answers saying America needs "fewer white shirts and brains" implying Western farmers were ignorant, lazy and bad businessmen.[41] The Scarecrow shares this opinion and doubts himself, believing he is inferior without a brain. In the same year White published his article, William Jennings Bryan delivered his famous "Cross of Gold speech" at the 1896 Democratic Convention. Bryan fought for the farmers and argued against such accusations made by White exclaiming, "The farmer who goes forth in the morning and toils all day, begins in the spring and toils all summer, and by the application of brain and muscle to the natural resources of this country creates wealth, is as much a businessman as the man who goes upon the Board of Trade and bets upon the price of grain."[42] Baum shares Bryan's view on American farmers by showing that the Scarecrow is sharp and capable by his actions throughout the book. The book ends with "farm interests achieving national importance" and farmers' true potential in politics being revealed once the illusion of ignorance has been removed.

The next companion Dorothy meets on the yellow brick road is the Tin Woodsman who has been cursed by the now deceased Wicked Witch of the East. He was once a hard worker yearning to earn money to start a family with a Munchkin girl. The witch enchanted his axe so that the Woodsman chopped of each of his limbs and eventually his body. Each time a tinner healed the Woodsman by replacing his body with tin, however once the Tin Woodsman's heart was removed he could no longer love. The Tin Woodsman symbolizes the Eastern working man competing in an industrialized society. The 19th-century man had to keep up with the machine in order to be useful and relevant. In this way the Witch of the East's curse "dehumanized a simple laborer so that the faster and better he worked the more quickly he became a kind of machine."[38] The Tin Woodsman was caught in the rain and rusted in the same position for one year before Dorothy oils his joints to set him free. The Tin Woodsman's year of waiting is parallel to the unemployment of Eastern workers during the severe depression of 1893-1897. His calls of help that were never heard relate to President Grover Cleveland's "hard-hearted refusal" to take action during this time to reinstate the economy.[38] While the Tin Woodsman stood still for a year, he finally slowed down enough to ponder life. During this time he discovers that "the greatest loss [he] had known was the loss of [his] heart" for without it he cannot love. Baum portrays the Tin Woodsman as an Eastern worker who lost sight of family values for a moment. Part of the Progressive movement in the 19th century was to reestablish the family as the center of American life. The curse of the Tin Woodsman by the Wicked Witch of the East is consistent with the depiction of the witch representing Wall Street and other Eastern big businesses during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The final addition to the traveling party is the Cowardly Lion. This character is hypothesized to be the famous Populist politician William Jennings Bryan. The muscular, six-foot-tall (183 cm) political figure was known as a compassionate but powerful speaker, which could be compared to a lion's roar.[43] Throughout the book, Baum is mostly sympathetic towards populist characters such as the Scarecrow; thus it seems odd that Baum would refer to the character portraying Bryan as cowardly.[44] However, the late 19th century began an age of American expansionism in which the United States struggled to gain control of countries like Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines from Spain. Bryan's non-violent and anti-imperialist stance on the popular Spanish–American War of 1898 was often referred to as unpatriotic and cowardly. Baum seems to take this criticism and turn it into a complaint towards Bryan, showing that although the Lion is the King of the Beasts it shows more bravery to stand by than to run in towards unnecessary obstacles, no matter how popular. The Cowardly Lion's first encounter with the Tin Woodsman shows support for both of their characters being based on Bryan and Eastern industrial workers, respectively. When they meet, the Cowardly Lion strikes the Tin Woodsman with his sharp claws, but to his surprise "he could make an impression on the tin, although the Woodman fell over in the road and lay still." This refers to Bryan's inability to get votes in the 1896 presidential election from Eastern workers owing to pressure from their employers to vote for McKinley.[38] Bryan himself said, "During the campaign I ran across various evidences of coercion, direct and indirect."[45] Other historical sources share this opinion noting, "for some reason labor remained singularly unimpressed." Thus, the Cowardly Lion's claws did not pierce the Tin Woodsman body, just as Bryan's roar did not leave an impression with Eastern industrial workers.

Baum's fairy tale contains many other allusions to American life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For instance, Dorothy's loyal companion, Toto, could be a play on "teetotalers" which is a person who never drinks alcohol.[46] The prohibitionists deemed alcohol consumption should be unlawful and they were longtime political allies of Populists during the late 19th century. Ironically, Toto trots "soberly" behind Dorothy on their adventure. The Winged Monkeys have been thought to resemble the Plains Indians who were "once free people" but were now enslaved by the Wicked Witch of the West. Their actions can be good or bad depending on how they are controlled; however they "belong to this country alone" and therefore cannot leave, as can be said for American Indians.[38] The Yellow Winkies that inhabit the Land of the West could represent Asian workers in California during the gold rush; their harsh work environment can be seen as enslavement.[38] The lenses that the groups must wear before entering the City of Oz to dim the emeralds' shine turn out to be fake, like the Wizard. The Emerald City is not a city made of emeralds but a plain, white city where the emerald color lenses cast a green hue on everything and everyone. This shows that anything can be made to look spectacular if you allow yourself to be tricked. Baum traveled all over the United States and would have been introduced to all these events in the 19th century, making it very likely that he drew inspiration from the land around him.

Baum's modernized fairy tale, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, ends with both the Wicked Witch of the East and West defeated and Dorothy, Toto and the Wizard returning to the United States. The Scarecrow reigns over the Emerald City; thus farmers achieve national importance. The Tin Woodsman brings industrialization to the Land of the West. And the Cowardly Lion becomes the protector in the Grand Old Forest, as Bryan commanded a smaller number of politicians.[38]

Littlefield's thesis achieved some support, but has been strenuously attacked by others.[47][48][49][50][51]

Cultural impact

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.[52] 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.

The 1939 film adaptation, a now-classic of popular culture, was shown annually on American television from 1959 to 1991, and shown several times a year every year beginning in 1999.[53]

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".[54] 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.[54]

In 2004, American rapper Marshall "Eminem" Mathers released his fifth studio album - titled Encore [55] - which featured the song "Yellow Brick Road". The song, produced by Mathers and Luis Resto, samples "Funkin Lesson" by X-Clan and vocal from Spectrasonics' "Vocal Planet"

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 television 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

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[56]

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.[56]

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.[57]

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".[58]

In 1986, seven Fundamentalist Christian families in Tennessee opposed the novel's inclusion in the public school syllabus and filed a lawsuit.[59][60] 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".[60] One parent said, "I do not want my children seduced into godless supernaturalism".[61] 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.[59]

Feminist author Margery Hourihan has described the book as a "banal and mechanistic story which is written in flat, impoverished prose".[62]

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.[63]

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".[16]


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.[64] 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."[3] After Baum's death in 1919, Baum's publishers delegated the creation of more sequels to Ruth Plumly Thompson who wrote 21.[16] An original Oz book was published every Christmas between 1913 and 1942.[65] 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.[3]


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 Wizard of Oz, the 1939 film starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, and Bert Lahr. Until 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.[66]

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

Notes and references

  1. ^ Baum uses the word cyclone, then proceeds to describe a tornado.
  1. ^ Katharine M. Rogers, L. Frank Baum, pp. 73–94.
  2. ^ "Notes and News".  
  3. ^ 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".  
  4. ^ Sweet, Oney Fred (February 20, 1944). "Tells How Dad Wrote 'Wizard of Oz' Stories".  
  5. ^ Verdon, Michael (1991). "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz".  
  6. ^ a b """New Fairy Stories: "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by Authors of "Father Goose.. Grand Rapids Herald. September 16, 1900. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 2, 2011. Retrieved February 2, 2011. 
  7. ^ Bloom 1994, p. 9
  8. ^ Starrett, Vincen (May 2, 1954). "The Best Loved Books".  
  9. ^ The Annotated Wizard of Oz: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Lyman Frank Baum. Google Books. 
  10. ^ Children's Literature Research Collection | University of Minnesota Libraries
  11. ^ a b  
  12. ^ The Writer's Muse: L. Frank Baum and the Hotel del Coronado
  13. ^ Mendelsohn, Ink (May 24, 1986). "As a piece of fantasy, Baum's life was a working model".  
  14. ^ Schwartz 2009, p. 273
  15. ^ Algeo, J., "Australia as the Land of Oz", American Speech, Vol. 65, No. 1, 1990, pp. 86–89.
  16. ^ a b c Delaney, Bill (March 2002). "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz".  
  17. ^ Riley, MIchael. "Oz and Beyond, The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum". Lawrence, University of Kansas Press, 1997, p. 51.
  18. ^ Gourley 1999, p. 7
  19. ^ Carpenter & Shirley 1992, p. 43
  20. ^ Schwartz 2009, pp. 87–89
  21. ^ Schwartz 2009, p. 75
  22. ^ Culver 1988, p. 102
  23. ^ a b Hansen 2002, p. 261
  24. ^ Barrett 2006, pp. 154–155
  25. ^ Taylor, Moran & Sceurman 2005, p. 208
  26. ^ Wagman-Geller 2008, pp. 39–40
  27. ^ Schwartz 2009, p. 95
  28. ^ Schwartz 2009, pp. 97–98
  29. ^ Schwartz, 2009, p.xiv.
  30. ^ Baum,Lyman Frank. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". Harpers Collins, 2000, p. 5.
  31. ^ Riley 1997, p.42.
  32. ^ Dighe 2002, p. x
  33. ^ a b Dighe 2002, p. 2
  34. ^ Littlefield 1964, p. 50
  35. ^ Hearn, Michael Patrick (1983). The Wizard of Oz (1st ed.). New York: Schocken Books. pp. 146–147.  
  36. ^ Baum, L. Frank (1917). The Lost Princess of Oz. Chicago: Reilly & Britton. p. 13. 
  37. ^ Dighe, Ranjit S. (2002). The Historian's Wizard of Oz. London: Praeger. p. 126.  
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h Littlefield 1964
  39. ^ Littlefield 1964, p. 55
  40. ^ Dighe, Ranjit S. (2002). The Historian's Wizard of Oz (1st ed.). London: Praeger. p. 57.  
  41. ^ White, William Allen (1896). "What's the Matter With Kansas". Emporia Gazette. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  42. ^ Bryan, William Jennings. "Cross of Gold Speech: Mesmerizing the Masses". Official Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention Held in Chicago, Illinois July 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 1896. 
  43. ^ Dighe, Ranjit S. (2002). The Historian's Wizard of Oz. London: Praeger. p. 61.  
  44. ^ Dighe, Ranjit S. (2002). The Historian's Wizard of Oz. London: Prager. p. 67.  
  45. ^ Bryan, William Jennings (1897). The First Battle. Lincoln: Thomson Publishing. pp. 617–618. 
  46. ^ Dighe, Ranjit S. (2002). The Historian's Wizard of Oz. London: Praeger. p. 45.  
  47. ^ 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.
  48. ^ Setting the Standards on the Road to Oz, Mitch Sanders, The Numismatist, July 1991, pp 1042–1050
  49. ^ 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.  
  50. ^ "Web of Debt". 
  51. ^ "Responses to Littlefield – The Wizard of Oz". Archived from the original on April 16, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2013. 
  52. ^ Rutter, Richard (July 2000). Follow the yellow brick road to... (Speech). Indiana Memorial Union, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. 
  53. ^ To See The Wizard: Oz on Stage and Film. Library of Congress, 2003.
  54. ^ a b Christie, Nicola (August 17, 2006). "Wicked: tales of the witches of Oz".  
  55. ^ https://articles/Encore_(Eminem_album)
  56. ^ a b "Books and Authors".  
  57. ^ Berman 2003, p. 504
  58. ^ Vincent, Starrett (May 12, 1957). "L. Frank Baum's Books Alive".  
  59. ^ a b Abrams & Zimmer 2010, p. 105
  60. ^ a b Culver 1988, p. 97
  61. ^ Nathanson 1991, p. 301
  62. ^ Hourihan, Margery. Deconstructing the Hero. p. 209.  
  63. ^ Fisher, Leonard Everett (2000). "Future Classics: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz".  
  64. ^ Littlefield 1964, pp. 47–48
  65. ^ Watson, Bruce (2000). "The Amazing Author of Oz".  
  66. ^ Twiddy, David (September 23, 2009). Wizard of Oz' goes hi-def for 70th anniversary"'".  
  • Abrams, Dennis; Zimmer, Kyle (2010). L. Frank Baum. New York:  
  • Aycock, Colleen and Mark Scott (2008). Joe Gans: A Biography of the First African American World Boxing Champion. McFarland & Co, 133–139.
  • Barrett, Laura (2006). "From Wonderland to Wasteland: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Great Gatsby, and the New American Fairy Tale". Papers on Language & Literature ( 
  • Baum, Frank Joslyn; MacFall, Russell P. (1961). To Please a Child. Chicago: Reilly & Lee Co.
  • Berman, Ruth (November 2003). "The Wizardry of Oz".  
  • Carpenter, Angelica Shirley; Shirley, Jean (1992). L. Frank Baum: Royal Historian of Oz. Minneapolis:  
  • Culver, Stuart. "Growing Up in Oz." American Literary History 4 (1992) 607–28.
  • Culver, Stuart (1988). "What Manikins Want: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Art of Decorating Dry Goods Windows". Representations (  
  • Dighe, Ranjit S. (2002). The Historian's Wizard of Oz: Reading L. Frank Baum's Classic as a Political and Monetary Allegory. Praeger.  
  • Gardner, Martin; Nye, Russel B. (1994). The Wizard of Oz and Who He Was. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press
  • Gardner, Todd. "Responses to Littlefield" (2004), online
  • Gourley, Catherine (1999). Media Wizards: A Behind-the-Scene Look at Media Manipulations. Brookfield, CT:  
  • Greene, David L.; Martin, Dick (1977). The Oz Scrapbook. Random House.
  • Hanff, Peter E and Douglas G. Greene (1988). Bibliographia Oziana: A Concise Bibliographical Checklist. The International Wizard of Oz Club. ISBN 978-1-930764-03-3
  • Hansen, Bradley A. (2002). "The Fable of the Allegory: The Wizard of Oz in Economics".  
  • Hearn, Michael Patrick (ed). (2000, 1973) The Annotated Wizard of Oz. W. W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-04992-2
  • . 16 (1994): 49–63Journal of the Georgia Association of Historians as a 'Parable on Populism'." The Wonderful Wizard of OzParker, David B. (1994) "The Rise and Fall of
  • Riley, Michael O. (1997) Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum. University of Kansas Press ISBN 0-7006-0832-X
  • Ritter, Gretchen. "Silver slippers and a golden cap: L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and historical memory in American politics." Journal of American Studies (August 1997) vol. 31, no. 2, 171–203.
  • Rockoff, Hugh. "The 'Wizard of Oz' as a Monetary Allegory," Journal of Political Economy 98 (1990): 739–60 online at JSTOR
  • Rogers, Katharine M. (2002). L. Frank Baum: Creator of Oz. New York:  
  • Schwartz, Evan I. (2009). Finding Oz: how L. Frank Baum discovered the Great American story. Boston:  
  • Sherman, Fraser A. (2005). 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. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. ISBN 0-7864-1792-7
  • Sunshine, Linda. All Things Oz (2003)
  • Swartz, Mark Evan. Oz Before the Rainbow: L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" on Stage and Screen to 1939 (2000).
  • Taylor, Troy;  
  • Velde, Francois R. "Following the Yellow Brick Road: How the United States Adopted the Gold Standard" Economic Perspectives. Volume: 26. Issue: 2. 2002. also online here
  • Wagman-Geller, Marlene (2008). Once Again to Zelda: The Stories Behind Literature's Most Intriguing Dedications. New York:  
  • Ziaukas, Tim (Fall 1998). "100 Years of Oz: Baum's 'Wizard of Oz' as Gilded Age Public Relations". Public Relations Quarterly. 

External links

  • Wall Street Journal"Down the Yellow Brick Road of Overinterpretation," by John J. Miller in the
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz public domain audiobook at LibriVox
  • (1900 illustrated copy)The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Publisher's green and red illustrated cloth over boards; illustrated endpapers. Plate detached. Public Domain – Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, an unabridged dramatic audio performance at Wired for Books.
  • Online version of the 1900 first edition on the Library of Congress website.
  • on the Silver ScreenThe Wizard of OzA Long and Dangerous Journey – A History of –
  • at Internet ArchiveThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.