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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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*The first American Fairytale*

"Just like the story about the Wizard of Oz, I have a wish to be a very special girl, I really really wanna know so much, so tell me are you the Wizard of Oz? "
―Toybox Lyrics.
Written by  L. Frank Baum
Illustrator  W. W. Denslow
Published  1900
Publisher  George M. Hill Company

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, also known as The Wizard of Oz, is the first book in the Oz series by L. Frank Baum. The book was illustrated by W. W. Denslow, and published in (1900). The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is considered to be the first official American Fairytale and fable.

Book Reviews of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz From 1900...

"This story of The Wizard of Oz, is so ingeniously woven out of commonplace material. It is of course an extravaganza experience for any American child, but will surely be found to appeal strongly to adult readers as well as to the younger children, to whom it will be read by mothers or those having charge of the entertaining of children. There seems to be an inborn love of stories in child minds, and one of the most familiar and pleading requests of children is to be told another story, a story like this one."
―New York Times (1900)
" The drawing as well as the introduced color work vies with the texts drawn, and the result has been a book that rises far above the average children's book of today, high as is the present standard. "
―New York Times (1900)
"The book has a bright and joyous atmosphere, and does not dwell upon killing and deeds of violence. Enough stirring adventure enters into it, however, to flavor it with zest, and it will indeed be strange if there be a normal child who will not enjoy the story. "
―New York Times (1900)
  • Please Click Here to read the entire original story of 1900 page by page. See how different it is from the beloved 1939 movie musical adaptation. For those who have yet to read Baum's classic book that started it all, you've never seen Oz like this!

The Emancipation of Oz

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When someone mentions The Wizard of Oz many no doubt imagine families gathered around the television to share in the full-color glory of this timeless classic; but did you know that the book that the beloved movie is adapted from has been in the sights of censors since it was published? The common accusations are that it is “unwholesome” and “ungodly.”

L. Frank Baum's tale was originally published in 1900 and adapted into a stage play in 1902 before arriving on the silver screen in 1939. It remains one of the most well known American literary works over a century later.

The New York Times praised the novel in a September 1900 review, writing that it “would appeal to child readers and to younger children who could not read yet.” The review also applauded the illustrations for being a “pleasant complement to the text.”

Nevertheless, it has come under attack several times. Ministers and educators challenged it for its “ungodly” influence and for depicting women in strong leadership roles. They opposed not only children reading it, but adults as well, lest it undermine longstanding gender roles.

In 1928, the city of Chicago banned it from all public libraries. In the 1950’s, Florida state librarian, Dorothy Dodd said the books were ‘unwholesome for children” and pushed to have them removed from all of the state’s libraries. Children's illustrator, Michael MCcurdy even criticized W. W. Denslow's drawings, stating that the illustrations of the Oz characters are tacky, gaudy and mundane; even going as far as saying Denslow's appearance of Dorothy made her come off as plain, dumpy, even ugly!

In 1957, the director of the Detroit Public Library banned The Wizard of Oz for having “no value for children of today,” for supporting “negativism”, and for “bringing children’s minds to a cowardly level.” Professor Russel B. Nye of Michigan State University publically responded that “if the message of the Oz books- that love, kindness, and unselfishness make the world a better place- has no value today, then maybe the time is ripe for reassess a good many other things besides the Detroit Library’s approved list of children’s books.”

In one of the most noted cases of censorship efforts against the book, seven Fundamentalist Christian families in Tennessee opposed the novel’s inclusion in the public school syllabus and filed a lawsuit in 1986 based on the novel’s depiction of benevolent witches and promoting the belief that essential human attributes were “individually developed rather than God given.”

On the charge of including good witches in the story, they argued that all witches are bad, therefore it is “theologically impossible” for good witches to exist.


One parent said, “I do not want my children seduced into godless supernaturalism,” accusing the book of teaching children to be self-reliant rather than dependent on God to see them through difficult times. Other reasons for the opposition included the novel teaching that females are equal to males and that animals are personified and can speak.

The presiding judge ruled that rather than remove the book, the children were allowed to be excused from lesson plans centered on the novel. When they appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court, the court refused to hear the case. The group’s lawyers advised all “God-fearing Christians to remove their children from public schools.”

In 2004 both Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson conspired to get the movie banned from broadcast on public television because of “moral turpitude.” Robertson would publically state that “The Almighty told me that flying monkeys and witches are an affront to all good Christians.”

When asked at the time if either had ever seen the movie or read the book, they denied, saying that they “feared ungodly influence.”

I guess it’s better to be influenced by uneducated opinion and superstitious vitriol.

The book has even been used on the political spectrum, with some claiming that it promotes socialist and Marxist values due to its perceived lack of a divine presence.

Some librarians have also interpreted the book as a parody of American imperialism and racism. They rejected the author’s introductory explanation as an American fairy tale to encourage children to cherish life’s joyous wonderment, going so far as to describe the book as a “foolishly sentimental, poorly written, sensational, untrue-to-life, and unwholesome book.”

In an article posted by Professor Quentin Taylor of Rogers State University, it is argued that far from being a story to entertain children, The Wizard of Oz is actually an allegory for economics, politics, and 1890’s Populism.

In this modern age of YouTube and DVRs nothing ever gets lost, much to the chagrin of many politicians; but in the 1970’s something could be seen by millions and then disappear, never to be seen again, to be spoken about only as an urban legend. Such was the case of a fabled 1976 episode of Sesame Street, which featured Margaret Hamilton famously reprising her role as the infamous Wicked Witch of the West.

It wasn’t matter of a lost reel. The reason was far more bewildering- the Wicked Witch was deemed “too scary for the children watching the show.”

In the episode, the Wicked Witch is flying over Sesame Street when she drops her broom. David, a law student working at Mr. Hooper’s store, finds it. The Witch demands it back, threatening to turn Big Bird into a feather duster. Meanwhile, Oscar the Grouch becomes lovesick for the nasty witch.

She spends the episode trying to get the broom back, even going so far as to disguise herself as a kindly old woman. There’s even am inside joke when Mr. Hooper offers the Witch a cup of coffee and she tells him she can’t stand the stuff. Hamilton was appearing in Maxwell House commercials at the time the show aired.

According to information on the Muppet Wiki, the episode prompted a high volume of negative mail from parents. Typical responses included concerns that their children were afraid and now refused to watch the show, using such phrases as “screams and tears” and “the threat of the witch’s power remains in children’s eyes.”

A somewhat unusual response even came from a Wiccan viewer concerned with the perpetuation of a negative fairy tale stereotype and recommended a segment portraying witches as they really are in the modern world.

Due to the overwhelming reaction, additional test screenings were held from March 1 through the 5th, “to assess children’s reactions.”

Wow, I was three years old at the time and probably saw the episode myself. But, I digress…

The viewings indicated that that children were “exceptionally attentive during the Margaret Hamilton segments,” and those who watched the episode in color were fascinated by her green face. The issue of fear was difficult to fully judge, however, due to confusing answers and the fact that the children were surrounded by their peers and adults, and not watching alone. Despite all of the available information, Anna Herera of the Children’s Television Workshop Research Department suggested that “the Margaret Hamilton show not be re-run.”

What’s surprising is that Hamilton appeared as herself, albeit dressed up as a witch, a year earlier for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The footage has found a home and new life on YouTube.

Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz with no intentions of a sequel; but after reading the novel, thousands of children wrote letters to him requesting that he continue the story. In 1904, he published the first sequel, The Marvelous Land of Oz, explaining that he reluctantly wrote the sequel to address the popular demand. He would write sequels in 1907, 1908, and 1909. In 1911’s The Emerald City of Oz the wrote that he could not continue writing sequels because “Ozland had lost contact with the rest of the world.” Children refused to accept this so Baum wrote a sequel every year from 1913 until his death in 1919.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Condensed-Detailed Summary Version of Baum's Original 1900 Story...

Set roughly in circa 1899-1900, Dorothy Gale is a little orphan girl who lives in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, everything is described as dull, boring, lifeless and all grey. Even the grass was colorless. Not a tree, river, meadow, or building could be seen on either side of the flat Kansas fields. There she stays on a rather small and poor farm that stands in a isolated area with her Uncle Henry, a hardworking farmer and her Aunt Em, his submissive and loyal wife.

Their home is a very small one, having four walls a roof and a floor, which made one room. Containing only a rusty old cooking stove, a table with a few chairs, and two beds. One big bed for Aunt Em and Uncle Henry placed in one corner, and a little bed for Dorothy in another corner.

Dorothy had no friends at all, only a companion who was her pet dog whom she called Toto. Toto made Dorothy laugh and kept her young at heart as she played with him all day long. And he stopped her from turning as dull and grey as everything else around her, like it did to her Aunt and Uncle. One day, while Aunt Em was washing dishes in the tiny shack of a house, Uncle Henry and Dorothy were on the front porch looking up at the dark cloudy sky. Uncle Henry sensed what was coming, he called cyclone and ran to look after his animal stock.

Aunt Em dropped her work immediately and rushed for the storm cellar. Toto became frightened and jumped out of Dorothy's arms and hid under the bed. Dorothy was able to fetch Toto but not in time to make it to the cellar.

The cyclone lifted the farmhouse up from it's foundation with Dorothy and Toto aloft inside and both were carried off far, far away and high up into the sky and taken to the magical and enchanted Land of Oz.

The twister eventually dropped the house where it crash landed with a thud in the eastern qaudrant of Oz known as the Munchkin Country. And when the house did come back down it also accidentally fell right on top of the Wicked Witch of the East, crushing and killing her instantly. When the cost was clear and all was silent, Dorothy opened the door to look outside. And she gave a little cry of joy as her eyes grew bigger and bigger at the wonderful sights she saw. The cyclone had set the house down very gently—for a cyclone—in the midst of a country of marvelous beauty. There were lovely patches of greensward all about, with stately trees bearing rich and luscious fruits. Banks of giant gorgeous flowers were on every hand and also of every kind imaginable.

Colorful birds with rare and brilliant plumage sang sweetly and fluttered in the trees and bushes and plants. A little way off was a small babbling brook, rushing with crystal clear sparkling water, along between green banks, and murmuring in a voice very grateful to a little girl who had lived so long on the dry, gray prairies of dirt and dust.

Dorothy and Toto were then both greeted by the friendly little Munchkin people who inhabited this part of Oz. The Munchkins were also accompanied by the Good Witch of the North, a little fat and jolly old woman who was short and dressed pure white with sprinkled stars all over her clothing, she wore a tall white pointed hat on her head with dangling bells on the brim. She was a dear, close friend of the Munchkins who thanked Dorothy for killing the Wicked Witch of the East and setting them all free from many years of suffering from unhappy slavery and bondage.

To Dorothy's shock, there indeed under the corner of the house, two feet were sticking out from under it, wearing magic Silver Shoes. Dorothy was declared a hero, Nobel Sorceress and a good Witch. Even though Dorothy knew very well that she was just a normal girl who was brought to the strange land by chance.

Dorothy was skeptical at first, but glad she was of help. However, Dorothy's greatest wish was to just get her and Toto back home again where they belonged, with Aunt Em. Yet the Land of Oz was surrounded by a vast Deadly Desert that cut all of the land off from the rest of the world which kept it hidden from other civilized countries. No one crossed it and lived to tell about it. So the Witch of the North took off her white hat and balanced it upon the tip of her nose. Suddenly the hat turned into a magic slate with letters written on it in white chalk. The slate read: "Let Dorothy go to the city of Emeralds." So the only way for help was for Dorothy and Toto to travel to the Emerald City which stood in the exact center of Oz. There Dorothy could speak to the Great Oz, the most powerful Wizard in all the land to ask him for a way to possibly get back to Kansas again. All she had to do was follow the road paved with bright yellow bricks, for it was the only road that lead all the way to the Emerald City. The Good Witch gave Dorothy the magic Silver Shoes as a gift to show her and the Munchkins gratitude, for the Wicked Witch was so old she quickly turned to dust as she lay under Dorothy's house, leaving only the shoes behind. The Silver Shoes held a very powerful yet mysterious charm, for what it was no one knew. The old woman then gently kissed Dorothy upon the forehead, leaving a round, shining mark that glowed for good luck and protection, for the land of Oz was mostly all pleasant, but a few others were dark and difficult. Then the little old woman happily spun around three times and vanished into thin air, and was gone just like that.

The little Munchkin people thanked Dorothy once more and wished her and Toto a safe and well journey. Dorothy took a basket from her house and then put on a pink sun bonnet and dressed herself in her only clean frock of faded blue and white gingham. She also tried on the Silver Shoes, which fit as if they were made for her. Dorothy and Toto began walking down the Yellow Brick Road as her Silver Shoes tinkled merrily against the hard paved bricks. While on her long journey, she met a rich Munchkin man named Boq, and she celebrated with the wealthiest Munchkin people who held a great feast and banquet in honor of Dorothy for freeing them. He welcomed Dorothy and thanked her for wearing a dress white in it.

Boq explained to Dorothy that white is the color that only good Witches wear. The next day later on down the yellow brick road, Dorothy met a living Scarecrow in a cornfield, who wished for brains to be a great thinker, later Dorothy and her new friend met a Tin Woodman who was a gentle and helpless romantic with a tragic backstory of lost love.

He was found quite rusted after standing in the same position for a year in the dark forest. But wanted nothing more but a real heart to love again. And last but not least in the jungle like forest, the travelers came across a Cowardly Lion, who wished for some real courage to be ferocious ans brave and King of all beasts, without faking it.

Dorothy invited all three of them to come along and join her and Toto on the way to see the Wizard so they could all ask him for his help and to have their wishes granted also.

After many dangerous adventures the group saw a green glow in the sky before them, that's how they knew the journey down the yellow brick was coming to a finish. They all safely made it to the tall, glowing, and glittering jeweled gates of the Emerald City at last. The city was built of smooth polished marble, glass and solid gold, set with giant emeralds. Dorothy kindly asked the [[Guardian of the the Gates to speak with the Wizard at once.

Once inside the glittering gates they were all forced to wear green spectacles that were locked on and could only be taken off with a key that the Guardian of the Gates had. Even little Toto was made to wear them, just like all of the other citizens who resided within. This was to protect they're eyes from being blinded by the glorious emeralds all around. The travelers then were lead on a tour by the soldier with the green whiskers into the city streets and finally to the royal palace of the Wizard and his royal court. Dorothy and her companions were each given comfortable rooms that were elegantly furnished to rest in. Dorothy put on a pretty green dress of crochet silk and tied a silk bow around Toto's neck as a new collar. Thanks to Dorothy's Silver Shoes, the Wizard agreed to grant her and her friends an audience. But he would only see them one day at a time. Dorothy and Toto got to be the first to speak to Oz and enter his throne room that was decorated in sparkling green gems. He appeared to the girl and her dog as a giant green floating head on a royal throne of emeralds.

She told him all about her adventures in Oz and if he would help her get home again. The Wizard agreed to help her but he also commanded her to kill the Wicked Witch of the West first. Next was the Scarecrow's turn. But this time Oz appeared as a beautiful lady dressed in very fine robes and fancy clothing. Then the Tin Woodman spoke to him, and this time he appeared as a angry terrible oversized beast with horns. And finally to the Cowardly Lion. Oz was a fierce ball of fire that glowed like a star. Despite his shape shifting ways, Oz told all of them the same exact thing, to kill the Wicked Witch of the West if they wanted their wishes granted. So the group of friends left the Emerald City and began searching for the Wicked Witch in the West land of the yellow Winkies. Now, this Witch was even more Wicked than the one of the East. And she was said to be so Wicked and old, that the blood in her body had dried up long ago. She also had only one eye, but this eye was so strong that it could easily see any part of Oz no matter how far off it was. So with this eye the Wicked Witch saw the travelers walking on her land gradually approaching her yellow castle.

The Witch sent her killer wolves, crows, bees, and Winkie guards one by one to kill them. But Dorothy and her friends luckily defeated them all, every time which infuriated the Witch.

So she eventually used her magical Golden Cap to call her Winged Monkeys. She said the magic words and commanded the Monkeys to kill Dorothy and her company. But when the Monkeys tried to obey the Witches orders, they all saw the glowing mark of the Good Witch's kiss on Dorothy's forehead. Seeing this, they dared not to harm her. Instead they bashed the Tin Woodman against jagged rocks against a cliff, denting his tin body horribly. The Monkeys then ripped the Scarecrow apart and took out all of his straw. Then they tied up the Cowards Lion with ropes and lifted Dorothy and Toto up into the air and brought the three before the Witch's yellow castle.

The Witch wasted no time once the Monkey's flew away and she kept the lion in a harness and caged him up in her courtyard. Then she made Dorothy a kitchen slave to clean and cook all day, everyday. Dorothy became very sad but the Witch did not care. In fact the Witch was a very cunning Witch, and she knew that the Silver Shoes on Dorothy had magical powers and she wanted them to use for herself to gain more power and take over all of Oz. One day the Witch thought up of a wicked plan to steal them and get what she wanted. She tricked Dorothy and placed an iron bar in the middle of the floor where Dorothy was cleaning. The Witch also cast a spell using her dark magic. This dark spell was to make the bar completely invisible to the human eye. Dorothy, going about her daily chores as a slave, tripped over the bar and fell so hard that one of her Silver Shoes came off and the Witch greedily snatched it up before Dorothy could get back on her feet. Dorothy demanded the Witch to give her the shoe back. The Witch only laughed in Dorothy's face and said that she would not and smiled Wickedly and taunted Dorothy, telling the child it was now only a matter of time before she would find a way to steal the other shoe and do evil things by wearing them. Dorothy was so angry that in a state of despair, she tossed a bucket of cleaning water at the Witch soaking her from head to toe.

Unfortunately for the Witch, she quickly melted completely away like brown sugar and that was the end of her and all of her Wickedness. Dorothy was thanked by the Winkies for freeing them from slavery. And she was praised for ridding Oz of its Wicked Witches. To thank Dorothy even more, the Winkies restored the Tin Woodman and fixed his dented tin and stuffed and sewed the Scarecrow back together again until they both we're as good as new. Dorothy and her companions happily reunited and she took the Golden Cap that belonged to the Witch and used it's charm to make the Monkey's fly her and her friends back to the Emerald City, during the flight Dorothy realized that the Winged Monkey's we're not so bad after all, just slaves to whoever owned the Golden Cap. The leading Monkey explained to Dorothy that a Princess once cast a spell on them with the cap and must obey the orders of whoever it belongs to at the time. Dorothy and her companions returned to the City to finally claim their rewards. But to their dismay, they all discovered that the Wizard was a phony humbug and illusionist. The Wizard confessed to Dorothy and her friends all about his tricks and fake magic.

He told them he made all of the people in the city wear green tinted glasses so everything would appear green, even though it wasn't. The Wizard also promised to make it all up to them by giving the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion their desires and promising to take Dorothy home in a hot air balloon. On the day the Balloon was ready, it lifted off too early, while Dorothy was looking for Toto in the streets of the Emerald City who ran into the crowd of citizens to bark at a little green kitten.

The Balloon sailed into the sky with only the Wizard inside and disappeared into the clouds in the sky. Dorothy became very sad that she was left behind. But all hope was not yet lost. Dorothy and her companions then traveled on yet another long mission all the way to the land of the red Quadlings to find the beautiful Sorceress Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, and ask her for her help, for Glinda was Dorothy's last chance. After several more strange adventures, they finally arrived at Glinda's pretty ruby red castle which was guarded by pretty girl soldiers around Dorothy's age. The girl soldiers led the group of travelers inside were they could clean up nicely and look presentable for Glinda. Glinda sat upon her ruby throne as Dorothy told her all of her long story. Glinda then made a good selfless deal with Dorothy, and told her she would tell Dorothy how to get out of Oz, only in exchange for the Golden Cap that Dorothy had been wearing since she killed the Wicked Witch. Dorothy gave Glinda the magic cap and she kindly told the child about the charm of the Silver Shoes she had been wearing since her arrival in the Land of Oz, and that all she had to do was knock the heels together three times and command them to take her wherever she wished to go in the entire world.

Glinda would then use the Golden Cap to command the Monkey's to take the Scarecrow back to the Emerald City to rule as King, the Tin Woodman back to the land of the west to rule as the Winkie King and the Cowardly Loin back to the forest to be King of the beast. Then Glinda would use her own good magic to set the Winged Monkeys free from being prisoners of the Cap. After a tearful goodbye to her three friends and thanking Glinda, Dorothy did as she was told and knocked the heels of her shoes together and spoke out loud to them. Dorothy and Toto were both teleported and carried over the desert that surrounded Oz and back home again in Kansas. The magical Silver Shoes fell off of her feet right into the desert, and were lost forever.

Dorothy quickly sat up and looked far off across the field of the prairies and saw her Uncle Henry who was milking the cows by the barn. Aunt Em came out of the brand new farm house that Uncle Henry had built to replace the old one that got lost in the storm. Aunt Em was watering the cabbages when she looked up to see Dorothy running towards her with Toto barking loudly.

Aunt Em hugged Dorothy and covered the child in kisses. Aunt Em asked Dorothy where in the world had she come from and been. Dorothy told her about Oz and how glad she and Toto were to be home again. The End


Land of Oz

In this inaugural book, Baum first delineates and begins to develop his concepts of the Land of Oz, with its central city and its four countries in the four cardinal directions, each with its characteristic color — the Munchkin Country in the east (blue), the Winkie Country in the west (yellow), the Quadling Country in the south (red), and the Gillikin Country in the north (purple). The characters in the first book visit all of the countries except the northern one.

A crucial point about Oz is that it is not "civilized," which allows witchcraft and magic and other odd traits to flourish. (Compare another pre-civilized society, the Island of Yew, which later succumbs to civilizing influences.)

Baum gives Oz an extensive development in the thirteen subsequent Oz books he wrote; his successors as Royal Historians carried that elaboration still further.

The History of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Baum wrote the manuscript for the book in soft pencil on pads; he was left-handed, and his writing was clear and easily legible. He saved and framed the last pencil used in the process, and displayed it on a wall in Ozcot, his Hollywood home. Its inscription read, "With this pencil I wrote the MS. of The Emerald City. Finished Oct. 9th, 1899."

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Original cover.

(The title of the book changed more than once during its genesis. When Baum and Denslow signed their 1899 contract to create the book, it was termed "The City of Oz or some other appropriate name." Publisher George M. Hill suggested From Kansas to Fairyland at one point; and the book was copyrighted as The Land of Oz.)

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Original cover back.

Denslow supplied 24 full-color plate illustrations for the book (including the title page), along with more than a hundred drawings, a total that included chapter headings and monochrome pictures that ran under the text. The colors in his plates match the journey of Dorothy and her friends through Oz — pictures of scenes set in the Emerald City are tinted green, and those in the Munchkin Country are dominated by shades of blue.

Baum and Denslow split evenly a 12% royalty of the book; each earned 9 cents per copy on the $1.50 cover price. On 15 January 1900 each man received a $500 advance on royalties from the publisher. The book was an instant success upon publication, selling more than 37,000 copies in fifteen months. Each of the collaborators received royalty payments of $1,423 on 1 November 1900, and another $1,966 at the end of the following year.


Cover from the late 70's.

The book passed out of copyright protection and into the public domain in 1956. By that time, it had sold over 4,195,000 copies.


The 1939 film and the musical The Wiz are based on this first Oz book.

It was also adapted into graphic novel form by Marvel Comics, and Puffin Graphics Campfire Classics.

In 1995 Gregory Maguire wrote a revisionist prequel to it called Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

In 1997-1999, it was performed onstage at Madison Square Garden.


  • Aljean Harmetz. The Making of the Wizard of Oz: Movie Magic and Studio Power in the Prime of MGM — and the Miracle of Production #1060. New York, Delta edition, 1989.
  • Katharine M. Rogers. L. Frank Baum, Creator of Oz: A Biography. New York, St. Martin's Press, 2002.

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