May 15, 2007

Happy Birthday, L. Frank Baum

Happy Birthday, L. Frank Baum!

Today is the 151st anniversary of L. Frank Baum's birth. Coincidentally, it is also the 107th anniversary of the publication of his best-loved book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Baum had a number of careers in his life, but writing seems to be the only thing at which he was successful. He raised chickens, owned a store, edited a variety of publications on subjects ranging from stamp collecting to poultry management to window display merchandizing, and was involved in a number of dubious theatrical endeavors. But the one thing Baum is best remembered for is his classic children's book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the 13 other Oz books that followed it. Several times during his life he determined to stop writing the Oz books, but popular acclaim, and especially the fan letters from children, drew him back to his most popular series.

Other books by Baum include Mother Goose in Prose, Father Goose, His Book (which was the best-selling children's book of 1899), The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, the Aunt Jane's Nieces series, and Queen Zixi of Ix. He also published under such pseudonyms as Edith Van Dyne, Laura Bancroft, Suzanne Metcalf, Floyd Akers, Schuyler Staunton, and John Estes Cooke.

After Baum's death, the series was continued by other authors, including: Ruth Plumly Thompson, John R. Neill, Jack Snow, Rachel Cosgrove, and Eloise Javris McGraw and Lauren Lynn McGraw.

The original 14 Oz books written by L. Frank Baum are:

  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published 1900
  • The Marvelous Land of Oz, published 1904
  • Ozma of Oz, published 1907
  • Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, published 1908
  • The Road to Oz, published 1909
  • The Emerald City of Oz, published 1910
  • The Patchwork Girl of Oz, published 1913.
  • Tik-Tok of Oz, published 1914
  • The Scarecrow of Oz, published 1915
  • Rinkitink in Oz, published 1916
  • The Lost Princess of Oz, published 1917
  • The Tin Woodman of Oz, published 1918.
  • The Magic of Oz, published 1919
  • Glinda of Oz, published 1920

Illustration: Promotional poster for Baum's "Popular Books for Children", 1901. Public Domain

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