Best Known For
Children's book writer Frank Baum created the popular Wizard of Oz series. Ruth Plumly Thompson continued to write the series after his death.
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Born in New York in 1856, Frank Baum had his first best-selling children's book with 1899's Father Goose, His Book. The following year, Baum scored an even bigger hit with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and went on to write 13 more Oz books before his death in 1919. His stories have formed the basis for such popular films as The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Oz the Great and Powerful (2013).
"I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-the-wisp ... but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one's heart and brings its own reward."
"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written solely to pleasure children today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heart-aches and nightmares are left out."
Lyman Frank Baum was born on May 15, 1856, in Chittenango, New York. In 1900, Frank Baum wrote one of the most famous works of children's literature, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, later known as The Wizard of Oz. He enjoyed a comfortable upbringing as the son of a barrel factory owner who also had some success in the oil business. Named "Lyman" after an uncle, Baum hated his first name and chose to be called by his middle name "Frank" instead.
Baum's education began with tutors at home in his early years. At the age of 12, he went to the Peekskill Military Academy. Baum left the school after a health crisis two years later, apparently suffering from some type of heart condition. Never earning a high school degree, he spent his early adulthood exploring his interest in acting and writing for the stage.
After stints as a newspaper journalist and businessman, Baum started writing for children in his forties. He had discovered his talent for storytelling from the nursery rhymes and tales he told his four sons from his marriage to Maud Gage. The pair had wed in 1882, and Gage was the daughter of famed suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage. In 1897, Baum published his first collection for young readers Mother Goose in Prose, which was illustrated by Maxfield Parish. He soon followed up this work with the hugely popular Father Goose, His Book. This book became the top-selling children's title of 1899 and featured illustrations by W. W. Denslow.
In 1900, Baum introduced readers to a fantastical land filled with witches, munchkins and a girl named Dorothy from Kansas in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The story of Dorothy's quest to find her way home, accompanied by a tin woodsman, a scarecrow and cowardly lion, proved to be quite popular. Baum wrote about his intentions in the book's introduction: "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written solely to pleasure children today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heart-aches and nightmares are left out."
Two years later, Baum transformed his fairy tale into a successful Broadway musical. He re-imagined a popular culture figure around this time with The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1902). In 1904, Baum returned to Oz with the first sequel to his beloved work, The Wonderful Land of Oz.
In addition to his Oz books, Baum wrote more children's titles under an array of pseudonyms. He wrote the Aunt Jane's Nieces series as Edith Van Dyne among other projects. In 1910, Baum moved his family to Hollywood, California, where he worked to bring his stories to the big screen.
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