The Wonderful Wizard of Oz


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900, is the first fantasy written by an American to enjoy an immediate success upon publication. The book’s evocative use of the forces of nature in its plots, its invitation to children of all ages to look for the element of wonder in the world around them, and its memorable set of characters, including Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, and Glinda the Good Witch, had a powerful effect on the American imagination. The author, L. Frank Baum (1856–1919), was a financially struggling businessman and father of four children living in Chicago. He began his career as an author after his mother-in-law reportedly encouraged him to write down the nursery rhymes he had told his sons over the years. Baum published Mother Goose in Prose in 1897 and Father Goose: His Book in 1899, the latter in cooperation with Chicago artist William Wallace Denslow (1856‒1915). Denslow was a poster designer, illustrator, and cartoonist who had worked for a number of magazines and newspapers over the years. The first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, presented here, was illustrated by Denslow. Baum went on to write a total of 14 books in the Oz series, beginning with The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904) and ending with Glinda of Oz, which was published posthumously in 1920. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was the basis for the film The Wizard of Oz, which was released in 1939 to popular and critical acclaim.

Last updated: March 16, 2017