While doing research for my post yesterday about my irrational fear of Flying Monkeys, I was surprised by what I learned about the story of the “The Wizard of Oz.”
So today I am going to share some of the information I uncovered about the book, the story, and the movie.
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is a children’s novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W.W. Denslow. It was originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on May 17, 1900. This is a picture of the front cover of the book.
In a letter to his brother Harry, Baum wrote that the book's publisher, George M. Hill, predicted a sale of about 250,000 copies. In spite of this favorable conjecture, Hill did not initially predict the book would be phenomenally successful. They agreed to publish the book only when the manager of the Grand Opera House, Fred R. Hamlin, agreed to make the “The Wizard of Oz” into a play to help publicize the novel. This is a picture of the back cover of the book.
Its first edition had a printing of 10,000 copies and was sold in advance of the publication date of September 1, 1900. On May 17, 1900 the first copy of the book came off the press; Baum assembled it by hand and presented it to his sister, Mary Louise Baum Brewster.
The public saw the book for the first time at a book fair at the Palmer House in Chicago in July. By October of 1900, the first edition had already sold out and 15,000 copies of the second edition were nearly depleted. After Hill’s publishing company became bankrupt in 1901, Baum and Denslow agreed to have the Indianapolis based Bobbs-Merrill Company resume publishing the novel. By 1938, over one million copies of the book had been printed.
In 1939, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer brought “The Wizard of Oz” to the big screen, based off of Baum’s novel. Over the years this story has become one of the best known stories and film of all time. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but it lost that one to “Gone with the Wind.”
Tough year for competition! The movie did go on to win in two other categories.
By 1956, the sales of the novel had grown to over 3 million copies in print. Wow!
Next year the story is coming back with a different twist as James Franco, plays Oscar Diggs, a small town circus magician from Kansas who faces epic problems and transforms himself into the Great and Powerful Oz.
There are many things to consider with this story from a Wicked Witch that can’t touch water and probably went her entire life without having a bath, to never having felt the wonder of a spring rain. There has been much conjecture over the years about the possible political and social overtones the different characters may have represented through the story. I know now that there were numerous sequels to the original book and the stories are much more involved than what the movies or plays have portrayed. I will have to get a copy of these to experience the entire phenomenon for myself.
The Wicked Witch uses Wolves, Crows and Bess before using the Golden Cap to enslave the Flying Monkeys to go after our heroes. In the books the magical slippers are silver, not ruby! The Wicked Witch rules over Winkie Country and the Witches guards are made up of Winkies which she has enslaved and force to do her bidding.
In the books Oz is from Omaha and traveled to the Land of Oz long ago by way of a hot air balloon. They also further explain the future destinies of the Tin Man, The Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion. There is also a Giant Spider which the Lion kills. For once I am glad Hollywood screwed the pouch and left so much out from the book, because I don’t think I could handle a Giant Spider and Flying Monkeys all together in one film. I am definitely adding “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” to my books To Read List!