A baby has brains, but it doesn't know much. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is an American children's novel written by author L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow, originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on May 17, 1900. It has since been reprinted on numerous occasions, most often under the title The Wizard of Oz, which is the title of the popular 1902 Broadway musical as well as the iconic 1939 musical film adaptation.
The story chronicles the adventures of a young farm girl named Dorothy in the magical Land of Oz, after she and her pet dog Toto are swept away from their Kansas home by a cyclone. The novel is one of the best-known stories in American literature and has been widely translated. The Library of Congress has declared it "America's greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale". Its groundbreaking success and the success 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.
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, a total of 10,000 copies, which quickly sold out. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz sold three million copies by the time it entered the public domain in 1956.
The book was published by George M. Hill Company. Its first edition had a printing of 10,000 copies and was sold in advance of the publication date of September 1, 1900. On May 17, 1900, the first copy of the book came off the press; Baum assembled it by hand and presented it to his sister Mary Louise Baum Brewster. The public saw the book for the first time at a book fair at the Palmer House in Chicago, July 5–20. The book's copyright was registered on August 1; full distribution followed in September. By October 1900, the first edition had already sold out and the second edition of 15,000 copies was nearly depleted.
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 The Wonderful 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", with the costumes modeled after Denslow's drawings. Hill's publishing company became bankrupt in 1901, so Baum and Denslow agreed to have the Indianapolis-based Bobbs-Merrill Company resume publishing the novel.
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.
By 1938, more than one million copies of the book had been printed. Less than two decades later in 1956, the sales of his novel had grown to three million copies in print.
If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with.
Dorothy 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 magical 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 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, and meets the Cowardly Lion. The Scarecrow wants a brain, the Tin Woodman wants a heart, and the Cowardly Lion wants courage, so Dorothy encourages the three of them to journey with her and Toto to the Emerald City to ask for help from the Wizard. After several adventures, the travelers enter the gates of the Emerald City and meet the Guardian of the Gates, who asks them to wear green tinted spectacles to keep their eyes from being blinded by the city's brilliance. 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, 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 travellers 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 Wicked Witch's personal slave, while the witch schemes to steal Dorothy's Silver Shoes.
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 from the North, 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 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 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, so the friends begin their journey to see Glinda, who lives in Oz's Quadling Country. 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 travellers 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 three uses of the Golden Cap: the Scarecrow to the Emerald City, the Tin Woodman to the Winkie Country, and the Lion to the forest; after which the cap shall be given to the King of the Winged Monkeys, freeing them. 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 through the grass of the Kansas prairie, up to her Kansas farmhouse. Dorothy runs to her Aunt Em, saying "I'm so glad to be at home again!”
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.
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. 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.
A new edition of the book appeared in 1944, with illustrations by Evelyn Copelman. 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.
All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.
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.
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 lived during the summer. The yellow brick road was derived from a road at that time paved by yellow bricks. These bricks were located in Peekskill, New York, where Baum attended the Peekskill Military Academy. Baum scholars often refer to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (the "White City") as an inspiration for the Emerald City. 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 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. Australia is often colloquially spelled 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 traveling by ship to Australia. 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.
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". 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. 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).
American Fantasy Story
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is considered the first American fairy tale because of its references to clear American locations such as Kansas and Omaha. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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'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.
In the early 1880s, Baum's play Matches was being performed when 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."
In 1890, Baum lived in Aberdeen, 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. Similarly, the Wizard made the people in the Emerald City wear green goggles so that they would believe that their city was built from emeralds.
Baum, a former salesman of china, wrote in chapter 20 about china that had sprung to life.
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.
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. 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". 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.
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. 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." 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 influenced 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.
No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.