The Author, L. Frank Baum
This brief article provides some background to the life of
L. Frank Baum. It is taken from a recent
work, which argues that the Wizard of Oz contains political and social
commentary about life in the
“The publication of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz
in 1900 marked a turning point in the life of L. Frank Baum. Baum was born to a prosperous German American
family living in upstate
Finally at the end of the decade, Baum
did well as an author of children’s literature.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was the best-selling children’s book
of 1900. It became one of the
best-selling books of the twentieth century.
At the age of forty-three, Baum had found success. He went on to write many more books, both
adult novels and children’s tales. The
first Oz book became a popular Broadway play.
There were other plays, and, later, screenplays, from the books. Nothing compared to the success of The
Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Try as he
might (Baum tried to end the series twice) to branch out into other creative
areas, readers continually demanded more Oz books. The year after The Wizard came out,
Baum furthered his effort to offer new, authentically American children’s
stories that ‘bear the stamp of our own times: and published American Fairy
Tales.’ This collection of stories was
considered too realistic (some of the stories were set in
1 Gretchen Ritter, “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, 31 (1997), 2, 175-176.