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The Enchanted Island of Yew

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Written by  L. Frank Baum
Illustrator  Fanny Y. Cory
Published  1903
Publisher  Bowen-Merrill

The Enchanted Island of Yew: Whereon Prince Marvel Encountered the High Ki of Twi and Other Surprising People is a 1903 children's book, a fantasy written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by Fanny Y. Cory. It is not an Oz book, though materials in it show a clear relationship and resemblance with Baum's most famous fantasy country.

Baum dedicated the book to his youngest son, Kenneth Gage Baum.


Sesely, the daughter of Baron Merd of Heg, and two companions are enjoying a picnic in the Forest of Lurla when they are accosted by a fairy. The fairy, bored with centuries of insipid fairy life, amazes the girls by pleading to be changed into a mortal. Though the girls are surprised to learn that they have the power to do such a thing, the fairy explains how it can be accomplished. The girls agree, and transform the fairy into a human male for the space of one year. The newly-minted youth is dubbed Prince Marvel, and, furnished with fairy arms and armor and an enchanted horse (a deer transformed), he sets out to have adventures.

Since the Island of Yew is dominated by robbers and rogues, Prince Marvel does not have to travel far to find said adventures. He begins by confronting and besting the bandits of Wul-Takim, the self-styled King of Thieves. Marvel captures all 59 of the band and is ready to send them to the gallows — but Wul-Takim convinces the naive prince that the robbers are now honest men, whom it would be unfair to hang. Marvel picks up a squire in Nerle, a baron's son who was a prisoner of the thieves.

A greater challenge awaits Marvel in Spor, where he faces dangers that include the Royal Dragon of King Terribus. The dragon is visually spectacular, but proves far less formidable than it appears. Its inner fire was blown out in a gale, and its keepers are out of matches. It cannot lash its tail or gnash its teeth, either — because they hurt. In the end, the beast refuses to fight Prince Marvel, even after getting its fire re-lit; the dragon is too much of a gentleman. With such opposition, it is not surprising that Marvel is victorious in Spor as well.

Marvel and Nerle next have a stay in the curious hidden kingdom of Twi. As its name suggests, everything is doubled in Twi, and all the people are twins. They even lack a word for "one." The High Ki of Twi (twins like everyone else) is considering the fate of the intruding singletons, when the fairy-prince works a spell that divides the rulers' united consciousness into two separate and contradicting minds. The results are chaotic, and Marvel has to remedy the mess by re-uniting the twins.

Marvel next exposes the pretended magician Kwytoffle. The fairy prince faces his sternest test when he confronts the Red Rogue of Dawna. Though his companions fall into the Rogue's magic trap, Marvel's fairy nature safeguards him, and he triumphs once again. By the end of his mortal year, Marvel has pacified the formerly troublesome inhabitants; the Island of Yew has become civilized.


Baum adapted material from this book into Prince Marvel, a play for schoolchildren, published in his Juvenile Speaker in 1910.

Baum named a minor character in the book "Merd." Some commentators have taken this as evidence that he knew very little French.

The illustrations

Fanny Cory provided eight color plates for the book, as well as pen-and-ink drawings. The latter were printed in orange ink under the text of the story, in a fashion similar to that used in the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

After more than five decades when the book was out of print, Books of Wonder released a new edition of The Enchanted Island of Yew in 1996, with illustrations by George O'Connor.


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