... I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-wisp which, when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one's heart and brings its own reward...
- L Frank Baum
Many people's knowledge of the fairyland of Oz is limited to The Wizard of Oz, either the book (the original or one of the many adulterated 'children's' versions) or the 1939 MGM film starring Judy Garland. However, there are hundreds of Oz books, and many, many film versions. And when one factors in the non-English translations1, the graphic novel adaptations and the 'alternative Oz' publications, the variations number into the thousands.
First published in 1900, L Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz had by 1963 grown to an 'official' 40 volumes, as declared by the publisher, Reilly and Lee by six different authors. From 1913 until 1942, there was an Oz book published every year. The intervention of World War II caused a break in the series until #37 was published in 1947, and the last three 'official' books appeared sporadically over the next sixteen years.
Economic interest in continuing the series had waned, and it wasn't until the early 1970s that others began publishing new volumes. There have since been dozens of 'semi-official' books, particularly those put out by Books of Wonder in New York and The International Wizard of Oz Club (IWOC). As the history of Oz moves into the 21st Century, generations of readers continue to delight and marvel at the adventures of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion, as well as all the many, many other citizens of Oz. Such is the legacy of imagination.
The following is an abridged canon of the major works of the Oz series, including the designated 'Famous 40', and some examples of later works and authors.
L Frank Baum
Baum (1856-1919) was born into a happy and stable family in Syracuse, New York, and grew up with ambitions for a life in the theatre. It was while touring in his The Maid of Arran in 1882 that he met and married Maud Gage. But other than this and the monumental triumph of his 1902 Broadway stage musical based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum's show-business career - including his forays into film production - was mostly less than successful. The immortality he has subsequently received as creator of Oz was unintentionally demanded of him as a result of economic desperation and reader demand.
It is easy to overlook the fact that, while writing his 14 Oz books, Baum also wrote 48 others under at least seven pseudonyms. He also wrote at least 44 plays and skits, of which 17 are recorded as being produced, and over a half dozen film scripts.
For further study, please see Linda McGovern's biographical sketch of Baum on her Literary Traveler website.
#1 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) (also published as The Wizard of Oz) illustrated by WW Denslow.
Where it all began. The original titles included From Kansas to Fairyland; The City of the Great Oz; The Great Oz; and The Fairyland of Oz, which was shortened to, penultimately, The Land of Oz. Dorothy and Toto are carried to Oz by a great cyclone and begin a never-ending adventure at which millions continue to marvel.
#2 The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904)2 illustrated by John R Neill3.
Young Tip, a Gillikin boy, escapes from the wicked witch Mombi only to discover that he is a part of Oz's darker history (perhaps one of the first transgendered characters in modern children's literature). This book introduces Glinda, Jack Pumpkinhead, the Woggle-Bug, the Sawhorse and Ozma, 'rightful ruler of Oz.'
#3 Ozma of Oz (1907)
Dorothy is thrown overboard during a storm at sea, and is washed ashore at Ev, a country neighbouring Oz. She reunites with the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion, and meets Ozma. Here, Baum introduces Tik-Tok, Billina the Yellow Hen, the Hungry Tiger and the Nome King (also spelled 'Gnome' in the series).
#4 Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908)
Dorothy gets caught in a California earthquake with her cousin Zeb, and their adventures underground reunite them with the Wizard of Oz.
#5 The Road to Oz (1909)
Ozma's birthday party introduces the Shaggy Man, Button-Bright, Polychrome the Rainbow's daughter and, of course, Santa Claus. Meanwhile, Dorothy gets herself lost, and finds herself on an enchanted road headed for a fourth time to Oz.
#6 The Emerald City of Oz (1910)
While the Nome King tries to conquer Oz, Dorothy - bringing Aunt Em and Uncle Henry with her - finally moves permanently to Oz. Baum tried to end the series with Oz being cut off from the rest of the world at the end of this book.
#7 The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913)
Ojo the Unlucky must find the ingredients for a compound that will release his enchanted Unk Nunkie. This book introduces Scraps the Patchwork Girl and Bungle the Glass Cat.
#8 Tik-Tok of Oz (1914)
Betsy Bobbin and her pet mule Hank from the United States are shipwrecked and wind up in Oz.
#9 The Scarecrow of Oz (1915)
Trot and Cap'n Bill - from Baum's The Sea Fairies (1911) and Sky Island (1912) - get swallowed by a whirlpool and wind up in Jinxland, a small country in an isolated corner of Oz.
#10 Rinkitink in Oz (1916)
Prince Inga of Pingaree finds himself alone after invaders conquer his home and enslave his family. With the help of King Rinkitink, and the talking goat Bilbil, he sets out to find his family and subjects.
#11 The Lost Princess of Oz (1917)
Ozma is kidnapped, and the most powerful magical instruments of Oz stolen along with her. This book introduces the Frogman.
#12 The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918)
Woot the Wanderer convinces the Tin Woodman to right a wrong from his earliest days. Along the way, they meet the Tin Woodman's twin brother.
#13 The Magic of Oz (1919)
Another birthday for Ozma provides the Nome King a second opportunity to conquer Oz.
#14 Glinda of Oz (1920) (published posthumously)
Ozma and Dorothy are trapped on a domed island at the bottom of a lake. Perhaps the darkest of Baum's Oz books, a possible result of his failing health.
Ruth Plumly Thompson
Thompson (1891-1976), a noted children's author of the day, was selected by Reilly and Britton to take over Baum's position as Royal Historian of Oz at the age of 20. It has been observed that, while the protagonists of Baum's books were usually girls, Thompson tended to write stories concerning boys. She contributed a book a year between 1921 and 1939.
Several years after her last Oz book was published, Thompson had an idea for a new Oz story, but by that point Reilly and Lee felt the Oz series was too long. The manuscript lay forgotten until IWOC published it in 1972 as Yankee in Oz. Four years later IWOC published The Enchanted Island of Oz, which had been in production when she died.
#15 The Royal Book of Oz (1921) (originally attributed to Baum)
The Scarecrow, investigating his family tree, returns to the pole in the Munchkin corn field from which Dorothy rescued him. His adventures introduce Sir Hokus of Pokes, the Comfortable Camel and the Doubtful Dromedary.
#16 Kabumpo in Oz (1922)
Kabumpo, the Elegant Elephant, must assist Prince Pompadore of Pumperdink (in the Gillikin country) in finding the Proper Princess.
#17 The Cowardly Lion of Oz (1923)
American circus clown Notta Bit More and orphan Bob Up are trapped by the Mustafa of Mudge into capturing the Cowardly Lion of Oz.
#18 Grampa in Oz (1924)
The King of Ragbad has lost his head, so Prince Tatters and the old soldier Grampa set out to find both it and a marriageable princess.
#19 The Lost King of Oz (1925)
Mombi must find Ozma's long-lost father Pastoria before he suffers a fate worse than the enchantment she put him under years before.
#20 The Hungry Tiger of Oz (1926)
The Hungry Tiger becomes the new executioner for the kingdom of Rash because of his desire to eat fat babies. (But he is too kind-hearted to ever do so.) Here we are introduced to Carter Green the Vegetable Man.
#21 The Gnome King of Oz (1927)
The Nome King tries again to conquer Oz, but is stopped by the Patchwork Girl and Peter from Philadelphia.
#22 The Giant Horse of Oz (1928)
Prince Philador and High Boy - a horse with extendible legs - must save the Ozure Islands from the sea monster Quiberon (who has also taken Trot prisoner). They themselves are saved by the Scarecrow, Herby the Medicine Man, and Benny, a living statue from Boston.
#23 Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz (1929)
Peter from Philadelphia returns to Oz to help Jack Pumpkinhead stop a plot by a wicked baron to overthrow Ozma.
#24 The Yellow Knight of Oz (1930)
Sir Hokus of Pokes has gotten bored in the Emerald City, and sets a quest on himself. He meets up with Speedy, a boy from America who crashes his rocket in Oz, and they must deal with a sultan who wants to capture Sir Hokus' friend the Comfortable Camel.
#25 Pirates in Oz (1931)
The Nome King returns with pirates to conquer Oz again. His old adversary Peter is back, though, to stop him with the aid of Captain Salt and Roger the Read Bird.
#26 The Purple Prince of Oz (1932)
Kabumpo the Elegant Elephant is back to save the royal family of Pumperdink again. He seeks the help of Jinnicky, the Red Jinn of Ev, but it is Prince Randy of Regalia who may have to save the day.
#27 Ojo in Oz (1933)
Kidnapped by gypsies (who think he is worth a fortune) Ojo is rescued by and adventures with Realbad, the Forest Bandit.
#28 Speedy in Oz (1934)
Speedy, from The Yellow Knight of Oz finds himself back in Oz; this time on Umbrella Island, a quaint little kingdom that floats in the sky. His striking resemblance to Princess Gureeda fascinates the Islanders.
#29 The Wishing Horse of Oz (1935)
Skamperoo, the King of Skampavia, accompanied by Chalk the Wishing Horse, succeeds (briefly) in becoming King of Oz. Dorothy once again sets all right.
#30 Captain Salt in Oz (1936)
Captain Samuel Salt, from Pirates in Oz, is now Royal Explorer of Oz. He and the crew of the Crescent Moon restore Tandy - boy king of Ozmaland - to his rightful throne. Appointing his friend Chunum regent, Tandy elects to stay with the former pirates as cabin boy.
#31 Handy Mandy in Oz (1937)
Mandy is a shepherdess with seven arms and seven hands who gets hurled into and then lost in Oz. She and Nox the white ox rescue King Kerry of Keretaria from his captors and eventually restore his throne.
#32 The Silver Princess in Oz (1938)
King Randy and Kabumpo, of The Purple Prince, set off to see their friend Jinnicky, the Red Jinn. On the way they meet Planetty, the beautiful Silver Princess from Another Planet and her steed Thun, the Thundercolt.
#33 Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Wizard invents an Ozoplane which can travel into the peculiarly Ozian stratosphere. When the Tin Woodman accidentally launches one, the Wizard and Jellia Jamb (long-time personal attendant to Ozma) set out after him in another. They meet up in Stratovania, ruled by the ambitious King Strut.
Yankee in Oz (1972) illustrated by Dick Martin.
Yankee, the Astro-dog, and Tompy, a young Pennsylvanian drummer, find themselves in a lake in the Winkie Country of Oz. Uniting in the attempt to get home, they get sidetracked into rescuing a missing princess.
The Enchanted Island of Oz (1976) illustrated by Dick Martin.
David Perry is surprised to meet a talking camel at the circus. Together they find their way to Oz and the flying island of Kapurta.
John R Neill
Neill (1877-1943) was asked by Reilly and Britton to illustrate the new Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz in 1904, and subsequently went on to illustrate the rest of Baum's Oz books, some of his non-Oz titles, and all of Ruth Plumly Thompson's Oz books. When Thompson stepped down as Royal Historian of Oz, the publishers asked Neill if he'd like to write a book as well as illustrate it. He accepted, and wrote three more titles in the series. Neill had written the manuscript for a fourth book when he died, and it was eventually published in 1995.
#34 The Wonder City of Oz (1940)
The temperamental Jenny Jump jumps so far, she lands in Oz. After opening her 'Magic Turn-style' clothing shop, she decides to challenge Ozma to an 'Oz-lection', to see who should be Queen of Oz.
#35 The Scalawagons of Oz (1941)
The Wizard's new inventions are a great way for Ozites to travel around Oz; until the mysterious Bell-snickle sneaks past a run-down Tik-Tok into the scalawagon factory and starts causing mischief with some flabber-gas.
#36 Lucky Bucky in Oz (1942)
Bucky Jones is blown into the sky by an exploding tugboat boiler in New York Harbour, and meets Davy Jones, the Wooden Whale. Together, they have a number of adventures on their way to Oz and the Emerald City.
The Runaway in Oz (1943) (published posthumously in 1995) edited and illustrated by Eric Shanower.
Scraps, the Patchwork Girl, runs away from home in the Emerald City. She, with many new friends, finds a castle in the air, saves the day, and returns home in triumph.
Snow (1907-1956) was a lifelong fan of L Frank Baum, and upon Baum's death, offered to take over writing the series although he was only 12. He went on to write for radio and television, as well as short fiction, much of which was of the 'pulp' variety. Because Snow never lost his fascination for Oz, he amassed one of the finest Baum collections of its time. Unfortunately, Snow's own Oz books did not sell well, and he eventually had to sell his collection. He died in 1956.
#37 The Magical Mimics in Oz (1947) illustrated by Frank Kramer.
Ancient enemies of Oz find a loophole in their enchantment that allows them to escape their prison and conquer Oz.
#38 The Shaggy Man of Oz (1949) illustrated by Frank Kramer.
The Shaggy Man rescues two children from Buffalo, New York who have been kidnapped and transported to Oz.
Who's Who in Oz (1954) illustrated by John R Neill, Frank Kramer, and Dirk.
A directory of characters from the first thirty-nine Oz books, plus biographies of the authors and illustrators, and book summaries.
A Murder in Oz (1955?)
A short story published posthumously in the Baum Bugle (the journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club) in 1957, it is included in Spectral Snow - The Dark Fantasies of Jack Snow (1998) as published by Hungry Tiger Press; illustrated by Eric Shanower.
Rachel R Cosgrove (Payes)
Cosgrove (1922-1998), while working as a pharmacological chemist, wrote an Oz book for her own and her mother's enjoyment. The Hidden Valley of Oz was her first published book, but she continued to write mysteries, romances, juveniles, and science-fiction. After marrying Norman Payes in 1954, her books were published under several variations of the name Rachel Cosgrove Payes, with some of her science-fiction published under the name EL Arch - an anagram of her first name.
She wrote another Oz story shortly after Hidden Valley was published, but Reilly and Lee decided not to publish it, and it stayed in her files until IWOC published it in 1993. In 1995 and 1997, she contributed short stories to Oz-Story #1 and #3 (an anthology of Oz material edited by Eric Shanower and David Maxine.)
#39 The Hidden Valley of Oz (1951) illustrated by Dirk.
The boy Jam flies into Oz with his giant kite, and lands in the Hidden Valley of Oz. The local citizens help him escape and send him to find help in defeating the giant who terrorizes the valley.
The Wicked Witch of Oz (1993) illustrated by Eric Shanower.
Singra, the Wicked Witch of the South, wakes up from a hundred year nap bound on revenge after originally being defeated by Glinda the Good.
Eloise Jarvis McGraw and Lauren Lynn McGraw (Wagner)
Eloise McGraw (1922-1998) was already an established writer when she and daughter Lauren (1944-) submitted a manuscript to Reilly and Lee. The publishers were interested in seeing how a new Oz book would be received after a gap of a dozen years, so they published Merry-Go-Round in Oz in 1963.
After the IWOC's success with their two Thompson publications, they asked the McGraws if they'd be interested in writing a new Oz book - an idea which became 1980's The Forbidden Fountain of Oz. Eloise had written an account of Baum's creation of Oz ('The Magic Land') for Childcraft in the 1960s, which was reprinted in 1996 in Oz-Story #2. She also edited Gina Wickwar's The Hidden Prince of Oz for IWOC. During her life, Eloise won three Newbery Honor Awards as well as an Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America. Lauren has gone on to a career as an artist.
#40 A Merry-Go-Round in Oz (1963) illustrated by Dick Martin.
When he grabs the brass ring at the county fair's merry-go-round, Robin Brown and his horse are whisked off to Oz. They meet Dorothy, Cowardly Lion and the Easter Bunny, and Prince Gules of Halidom.
The Forbidden Fountain of Oz (1980) illustrated by Dick Martin.
Emeralda Ozgood makes some limeade not knowing that the water she uses is from the Fountain of Oblivion, which makes anyone who drinks it forget everything. Unfortunately, it turns out that her only customer will be Ozma.
The Rundlestone of Oz (2001) by Eloise Jarvis McGraw illustrated by Eric Shanower.
When the rest of his troupe of entertainers disappears, the marionette Pocotristi Sostenuto (Poco) searches for the magical Rundlestone in order to rescue his fellow puppets from Slyddwynn, the sinister Whitherd of Whitheraway Castle.
While Shanower (1963-) is not considered an 'official' Royal Historian, his body of work has earned him a significant place in the history of Oz. He has written and illustrated The Enchanted Apples of Oz, a graphic novel published by First Comics in 1986; which was followed by The Secret Island of Oz, The Ice King of Oz, and The Forgotten Forest of Oz. The Blue Witch of Oz was published by Dark Horse when First ceased operation. Shanower's work for IWOC and Books of Wonder has been noted throughout this entry. He and partner David Maxine founded Hungry Tiger Books, which published the six-volume Oz-Story anthology and continues to produce other Oz-related ephemera. Shanower has been a prolific comic artist since the early 1980s, including his Age of Bronze for Image and his contributions to Gay Comix.
The Giant Garden of Oz (1993) written and illustrated by Eric Shanower.
Dorothy tries to discover what's making Aunt Em and Uncle Henry's new farm in Oz produce vegetables that grow to gigantic proportions (as do the people who eat them.)
A Few Contemporary Works
Dorothy of Oz (1989) by Roger S Baum illustrated by Elizabeth Miles.
Written by L Frank Baum's great-grandson, and set in a period in Oz shortly after the events in the Wizard. Dorothy returns, and she must overcome a jester who has recovered the wand of the Wicked Witch of the West and is turning the citizens of Oz into china ornaments.
Visitors from Oz: The Wild Adventures of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman in the United States (1998) by Martin Gardner illustrated by Ted Enik.
Dorothy and her friends travel to contemporary America to celebrate 100 years of Oz and to appear in a movie.
The Hidden Prince of Oz (2000) by Gina Wickwar4 illustrated by Anna-Maria Cool.
Chief Thundercloud, a carved wooden Indian, comes to life, and Emma Lou, an orphan tomboy helps Bungle (the glass cat of Oz) in solving the mystery of the missing Prince of the Blue Mountains.
Paradox in Oz (2000) by Edward Einhorn illustrated by Eric Shanower.
People suddenly begin to age in Oz, and Ozma must travel back in time to restore the anti-aging enchantment without altering any futures.
The One True Yellow Brick Road
When considered as allegory, Oz has inspired thousands of readers through the years as a 'moral lesson' in trusting oneself despite impossible opposition. Dorothy represents innocence and pluck, while the Scarecrow stands for intelligence and reason; the Tin Woodman, compassion and faithfulness; and the Cowardly Lion, stamina and courage. While some conservative Christian groups have repeatedly attempted to ban The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as Satanic and for allegedly encouraging children to disrespect their elders by thinking for themselves, others have instead interpreted the qualities of the protagonists in ways that serve as outlines for self-fulfilment and personal spiritual guidance.
Some of the more recent titles in this sub-genre include:
Secrets of the Yellow Brick Road : A Map for the Modern Spiritual Journey (1997) by Jesse Stewart
The Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organizational Accountability (1998) by Roger Connors
The Wisdom of Oz (1998) by Gita Dorothy Morena
The Zen of Oz : Ten Spiritual Lessons from over the Rainbow (1998) by Joey Green
The Oz Factors: The Wizard of Oz as an Analogy to the Mysteries of Life (1999) by Lawrence R. Spencer, Carol Lee South (Editor)
One should also see Henry M. Littlefield's 1964 essay The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism for a speculative analysis which describes Baum's probable political outlook.
Dark Side of the Oz
There is no greater measure of the impact of a work of art than the number of ways in which it is interpreted and re-interpreted. The 'innocence' of Oz and its characters has been the subject not only of works that remain true to and further the original, but also has led to the creation of many dark and sober 'what if?' stories. Speculative or revisionist in approach, it is nonetheless fascinating to contemplate an Oz into which World War II intruded, or airplanes crashed, or psychoanalysis was introduced. A few recommendations along these lines must include:
A Barnstormer in Oz (1982) by Philip José Farmer
Barnstormer Hank Stover never really believed his mother Dorothy's stories about going to the land of Oz and meeting a live scarecrow, a tin woodman, and a cowardly lion. Then, in 1923, his plane is forced down you-know-where.
Oz Squad (Patchwork Press Comics) by Steven Ahlquist and Terry Loh
A grown Dorothy and her friends are now a squad of secret agents working for both Oz and Earth. The Scarecrow has become a nihilistic depressive, while the Tin Man and the Lion act as super-macho 'musclemen'. (Contains graphic violence and adult language.)
Oz (Caliber Comics)
Some consider the characters here to be more faithful to their original counterparts than in Oz Squad. Dorothy, the Scarecrow, et al have become freedom fighters - known as the Gale Force - trying to overthrow the Nome King, who has finally conquered Oz and taken Ozma prisoner. The run included several one-off specials and mini-series, and some of the earliest issues have been reissued in graphic novels (Mayhem in Munchkinland collects the first five, and A Gathering of Heroes combines 6-10). When the creators of Oz left Caliber, they joined Arrow Comics and finished the Caliber series as Dark Oz; then relaunched the series as Land of Oz.
Was (1992) by Geoff Ryman
A very dark examination of the lives touched by The Wizard of Oz, Was journeys from turn-of-the-century Kansas, through Hollywood in the 1930s to the present day. (Mature themes and language.)
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995) by Gregory Maguire
A distinctly unique view of the events prior to and including the original 'Wizard', told as a biography of Elphaba: a Munchkin animal-rights activist cum 'wicked witch' who ultimately is assassinated by Dorothy - the unwitting pawn of the evil Wizard of Oz. (Mature themes and language.)
We're Off to See the Movie...
There have been many, many film adaptations of the Oz books, beginning in 1908 with Baum's own Fairylogue and Radio Plays5. To date, there are 41 movies, 22 TV movies, 24 'direct-to' videos, seven TV series and even a video game all based (in varying degrees of looseness) on the Oz books, and this does not take into account any of the innumerable stage adaptations. Additionally, when one includes non-Oz material, Baum is credited as 'creator/original characters by' on a total of 118 films.
'Over the Rainbow' was recently named the Top Song of the 20th Century by both the National Endowments for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America.
Piglet Press' Index to the Oz Movies Catalog is an exhaustive listing through to 1996, while the Internet Movie Database provides information on Oz filmography and planned projects currently through 2002.
For Further Research
The International Wizard of Oz Club is an organization devoted to scholarly research of all things Ozian, and co-ordinates a number of social gatherings throughout the year.
Books of Wonder is in the process of reprinting the 'Famous 40' in their original format and design, as well as new works. Currently, they have published editions of all of the Baum canon, and are working their way through the Thompson.
Piglet Press' website includes an exhaustive Oz Encyclopaedia.
Please see the Eric Shanower home page for a complete biography and resume.
Eric Gjovaag's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Website is another thoroughly-researched source of information.
- Following its recent designation by the LOC as a 'National Treasure', The United States Library of Congress has mounted a commemorative Wizard of Oz exhibit.
And oh, Aunt Em! I'm so glad to be at home again!
Oz is that place, ten minutes before sleep, where we bind up our wounds, soak our feet, dream ourselves better, snooze poetry on our lips, and decide that mankind, for all it's snide and mean and dumb, must be given another chance come dawn and a hearty breakfast.
- Ray Bradbury 6
How ineffably true.