Influences: L. Frank Baum

After stints as a newspaper journalist and businessman, Lyman Frank Baum (1856-1919) started writing for children in his forties. He had discovered his talent for storytelling from the nursery rhymes and tales he told his four sons. In 1897, Baum published his first collection for young readers Mother Goose in Prose, which was illustrated by Maxfield Parish. He soon followed up this work with the hugely popular Father Goose, His Book. This book became the top-selling children’s title of 1899 and featured illustrations by W. W. Denslow.

In 1900, Baum introduced readers to a fantastical land filled with witches, munchkins and a girl named Dorothy from Kansas in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The story of Dorothy’s quest to find her way home, accompanied by a tin woodsman, a scarecrow and cowardly lion, proved to be quite popular. Baum wrote about his intentions in the book’s introduction: “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written solely to pleasure children today. 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.”

In addition to his Oz books, Baum wrote more children’s titles under an array of pseudonyms. He wrote the Aunt Jane’s Nieces series as Edith Van Dyne among other projects. In 1910, Baum moved his family to Hollywood, California, where he worked to bring his stories to the big screen. The first movie versions of his Oz tales were made as short films.

Must Reads:

The Complete Oz Collection

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

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

The Magical Monarch of Mo

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