The Wizard of Oz

Version: Unabridged
Author: L Frank Baum
Narrator: Rebecca Burns
Genres: Juvenile & Children's, Fantasy, Classics
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published In: July 2004
# of Units: 3 CDs
Length: 3 hours
Ratings:
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Overview

Most of us remember The Wizard of Oz as the film starring Judy Garland and Bert Lahr. But the film was based on L. Frank Baum's immensely popular Oz series, which was published in the early twentieth century. In these novels, Oz is the utopian land beyond the rainbow where threats are turned back with valor and ingenuity. The books' success lies in the way they induce children to look for the element of wonder in the world around them.

Considered the first truly American fairy tale, The Wizard of Oz follows the adventures of Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, after her Kansas home is swept away by a cyclone and lands in Oz, killing the Wicked Witch of the East. The Munchkins and the good witch, Glenda, show them the yellow brick road, which leads to Emerald City and the powerful Wizard of Oz. On this unforgettable journey, Dorothy encounters the brainless Scarecrow, the heartless Tin Woodman, and the cowardly Lion, each of whom must overcome the wrath of the Wicked Witch of the West to get his heart's desire.

Author Details

Author Details

Baum, L. Frank

"Frank was born in Chittenango, New York, the seventh of nine children born to Cynthia Stanton and Benjamin Ward Baum, only five of whom survived into adulthood. He was named ""Lyman"" after his father's brother, but always disliked this name, and preferred to go by ""Frank"". Benjamin Baum was a wealthy businessman, who had made his fortune in the oil fields of Pennsylvania. Frank grew up on his parent's expansive estate, Rose Lawn, which he always remembered fondly as a sort of paradise. As a young child Frank was tutored at home with his siblings, but at the age of 12 he was sent to study at Peekskill Military Academy. Frank was a sickly child given to daydreaming, and his parent may have thought he needed toughening up. But after two utterly miserable years at the Military Academy, following an incident described as a heart attack, he was allowed to return home.

Frank started writing at an early age, perhaps due to an early fascination with printing. His father bought him a cheap printing press, and together with his younger brother, Harry Clay Baum (who had always been close to Frank), produced The Rose Lawn Home Journal. The brothers published several issues of the journal, and were even able to sell ads in the paper. By the time he was 17 Baum had established a second amateur journal, The Stamp Collector, printed an 11 page pamphlet Baum's Complete Stamp Dealers' Directory, and started a stamp dealership with his friends.

At about the same time Frank entered his lifetime infatuation with theater and the performing arts, a devotion which would time after time lead him to failure and near-bankruptcy. His first such failure occurred at age 18, when a local theatrical company duped him into replenishing their stock of costumes, with the promise of leading roles that never came his way. Disillusioned, Baum left the theatre - temporarily - and went to work as a clerk in his brother-in-law's dry goods company in Syracuse.

At the age of 20, Baum took on a new vocation: the breeding of fancy poultry, which was a national craze at the time. He specialized in raising a particular breed of poultry, the Hamburg chicken. In 1880 he established a monthly trade journal, The Poultry Record, and in 1886, when Baum was 30 years old, his first book was published: The Book of the Hamburgs, A Brief Treatise upon the Mating, Rearing, and Management of the Different Varieties of Hamburgs.

Baum could never stay away from the stage long. He continued to take roles in plays, under the stage name of Louis F. Baum. In 1880 his father made him manager of a string of theaters that he owned, and Baum set about writing plays and gathering a company to act in them. The Maid of Arran, a melodrama based on a popular novel, proved a great success. Baum not only wrote the play but composed songs for it, and acted in the leading role.

He married Maud Gage, daughter of Matilda Joslyn Gage, the famous women's suffrage activist.

Later, Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and thirteen other novels based on the places and people of the Land of Oz. Several times during the development of the series, he declared that he had written his last Oz book and devoted himself to other works of fantasy fiction based in other magical lands, including The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, The Adventures of Father Goose and Queen Zixi of Ix. However, persuaded by popular demand, letters from children, and the failure of his new books, he returned to the series each time. All of his novels have fallen into public domain in most jurisdictions, and many are available through Project Gutenberg. His final book, Glinda of Oz was published after his death in 1919 but the Oz series was continued long after his death by other authors, notably Ruth Plumly Thompson who wrote an additional nineteen Oz books. Baum was buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, in Glendale, California.

Baum made use of several pseudonyms for some of his other, non-Oz books. They include:

* Edith Van Dyne (the Aunt Jane's Nieces series)
* Laura Bancroft (Twinkle and Chubbins, Policeman Bluejay)
* Floyd Akers (the Sam Steele series)
* Suzanne Metcalf (Annabel)
* Schuyler Staunton (Daughters of Destiny)