The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

Written by L. Frank Baum

Chicago, 1900

6.5" x 8.9"

Kerlan Collection, Children's Literature Research Collections

University of Minnesota Libraries

L. Frank Baum had been a dismal flop as an actor, chicken farmer, newspaper editor, and traveling salesman when, as a family man in his forties, he turned his hand to writing for children—and found his vocation. W.W. Denslow was one of Chicago's best-known illustrators when the two men met and became fast friends. Denslow approached the illustrations for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, their second collaboration, as a series of dynamic, posterlike images. Each is drawn with the artist's trademark wit in a dashing calligraphic line that crackles with conviction.

The original Oz book was an instant success, and it inspired a popular 1902 Broadway musical, numerous sequels by Baum and others, the classic 1939 MGM film, the 1978 adaptation The Wiz, and the Broadway phenomenon of the last decade, Wicked. Commenting on his life's work, Baum would say:

"To write fairy stories for children to amuse them, to divert restless children, sick children, to keep them out of mischief on rainy days, seems of greater importance than to write grown-up novels. Few of the popular novels last the year out, responding as they do to a certain...characteristic of the time; whereas, a child's book is, comparatively speaking, always the same, since children are always the same,...with the same needs to be satisfied."

Click on any image to enlarge

Read more from the Wizard of Oz series on UMedia, including materials from The Oz Collection, a personal collection of Oziana and other Baum-related children's literature collected by Laura Jane Musser throughout her lifetime.

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The Wizard of Oz