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Wonderfulwizard
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Illustrator W. W. Denslow
Publication date 1900
Published by George M. Hill Company
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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, also known as The Wizard of Oz, is the first book in the Oz series by L. Frank Baum. The book was illustrated by W. W. Denslow, and published in 1900.



SummaryEdit

Dorothy Gale, a girl from Kansas, gets swept into the Land of Oz by a cyclone. She meets a living Scarecrow, a man made entirely of tin, and a Cowardly Lion while trying to get to the Emerald City hoping that the the Great Oz can help her return home. Oz commands them to destroy the Wicked Witch of the West, which they do, but when they return they discover that the Wizard is a humbug. Dorothy and her friends travel to Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, and she finally is able to help Dorothy get home.

Land of OzEdit

In this inaugural book, Baum first delineates and begins to develop his concepts of the Land of Oz, with its central city and its four countries in the four cardinal directions, each with its characteristic color — the Munchkin Country in the east (blue), the Winkie Country in the west (yellow), the Quadling Country in the south (red), and the Gillikin Country in the north (purple). The characters in the first book visit all of the countries except the northern one.

A crucial point about Oz is that it is not "civilized," which allows witchcraft and magic and other odd traits to flourish. (Compare another pre-civilized society, the Island of Yew, which later succumbs to civilizing influences.)

Baum gives Oz an extensive development in the thirteen subsequent Oz books he wrote; his successors as Royal Historians carried that elaboration still further.

BackgroundEdit

Baum wrote the manuscript for the book in soft pencil on pads; he was left-handed, and his writing was clear and easily legible. He saved and framed the last pencil used in the process, and displayed it on a wall in Ozcot, his Hollywood home. Its inscription read, "With this pencil I wrote the MS. of The Emerald City. Finished Oct. 9th, 1899."

(The title of the book changed more than once during its genesis. When Baum and Denslow signed their 1899 contract to create the book, it was termed "The City of Oz or some other appropriate name." Publisher George M. Hill suggested From Kansas to Fairyland at one point; and the book was copyrighted as The Land of Oz.)

Denslow supplied 24 full-color plate illustrations for the book (including the title page), along with more than a hundred drawings, a total that included chapter headings and monochrome pictures that ran under the text. The colors in his plates match the journey of Dorothy and her friends through Oz — pictures of scenes set in the Emerald City are tinted green, and those in the Munchkin Country are dominated by shades of blue.

Baum and Denslow split evenly a 12% royalty of the book; each earned 9 cents per copy on the $1.50 cover price. On 15 January 1900 each man received a $500 advance on royalties from the publisher. The book was an instant success upon publication, selling more than 37,000 copies in fifteen months. Each of the collaborators received royalty payments of $1,423 on 1 November 1900, and another $1,966 at the end of the following year.

The book passed out of copyright protection and into the public domain in 1956. By that time, it had sold over 4,195,000 copies.


ReferencesEdit

  • Aljean Harmetz. The Making of the Wizard of Oz: Movie Magic and Studio Power in the Prime of MGM — and the Miracle of Production #1060. New York, Delta edition, 1989.
  • Katharine M. Rogers. L. Frank Baum, Creator of Oz: A Biography. New York, St. Martin's Press, 2002.