Wizard of OZ

The book first in 1900 “The Wonderful World of Oz” and later the 1939 movie, “The Wizard of Oz” are treasured by young and old. Your ancestors for sure have watched the movie more than once. Here are a few interesting backstory items about the making of the book.

The book was written by L. Frank Baum, first living in Aberdeen, South Dakota running a general store. He did go out of business since he gave too much store credit to customers who didn’t all pay him back. Then the area experienced a great drought that hurt many,

Baum had first started writing for a newspaper in 1891, but that failed also. Then he was a traveling salesman and worked as a reporter, when he moved his family to Chicago, Ill. He did publish a magazine about how to successfully make a good store window display. Then he wrote children’s books, which did very well, becoming a very successful children’s writer in the late 1890s.

He wrote “The Wonderful World of Oz” and finished the book in October 1899 as he and his wife, Maud raised their four sons. Besides books, he also wrote adult plays for the stage.

When he was almost finished with the Oz book, his wife’s niece, Dorothy L. Gage died in November 1898, only 5 months old. Dorothy’s parents and one remaining child then moved to South Dakota from Illinois. Baum decided to change the name of the young girl character in his OZ book to Dorothy E. Gale. Years later a special statue of the character ‘Dorothy’ was carved into a large nearby tree at the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery where the 5-month-old Dorothy was buried in 1898. This ‘Dorothy’ name would live on forever, a fitting tribute. The book was published in May 1900.

Baum got the name ‘OZ’ by looking one day at his three filing drawers labeled “A to G,” “H to N,” and “O to Z.” And so OZ was born.

The first printing of the book was for 10,000 copies which sold out in two weeks. Some 90,000 books sold in the first six months and it remained a bestseller for 2 years.

Over his life he wrote over 50 novels, 80 short stories, hundreds of poems, and at least a dozen plays.

Photo: Book: “The Wonderful World of Oz” cover.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Souvenir Books

Children’s Golden Books

Coloring Books

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Sara N Martin 1/02/22

So true !
alice 1/02/22

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