- "Uncle Henry never smiled or laughed. He worked very hard from early morning till late night and did not know what joy was. He was strong and tall, and like his surroundings, he was gray too. Gray from his long beard to his rough worn out boots, and his gray sunburnt face looked stern and solemn, and he rarely ever spoke."
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
Uncle Henry is a fictional character invented by L. Frank Baum. He is introduced in Baum's first Oz book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900. Henry is the old Uncle of Dorothy Gale and husband of Aunt Em, and lived with them on a rather small and very poor farm in Kansas. In Baum's later Oz books, when the lovely child Queen of Oz named Princess Ozma became Dorothy's best friend and crowned her as an offical Princess of Oz, Henry and his old wife eventually abandoned their farm forever and moved to the magical Land of Oz to live happily ever after. Thus, escaping their bleak existences as they were consumed and trapped in bankruptcy and poverty.
- "As he sat on the front porch, Uncle Henry could see where the strong wind made the long prairie grass bow in waves before the oncoming storm, there now came a sharp whistling in the air from the south, and as he turned his old gray eyes that way he saw ripples in the prairie grass coming from that direction also. Suddenly Uncle Henry stood up and shouted to his wife; "There's a cyclone coming Em, I'll go look after the stock." Then Uncle Henry ran toward the barn and sheds where the horses and cows were kept."
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
Uncle Henry is portrayed as a rather depressed man who has no children of his own. Yet in a sense, Uncle Henry views his niece Dorothy as his daughter even though the book never clarifies if Dorothy is blood related, adopted or was sent to the farm to be a farmhand to help. In Kansas, Uncle Henry works all day on his crops for they can grow, Dorothy spends her time playing with Toto, and Aunt Em spends most of her long days washing dishes or watering the cabbage outside the small shack of a farmhouse. Unlike the 1939 movie, they all live in a one room home that is said to have once been painted white but the hot Kansas sun had deteriorated and chipped most of the paint away. Inside their house is only a wooden table and three chairs, a rusting looking cooking stove and the beds. Uncle Henry shares a big bed with Aunt Em in one corner of the room and Dorothy has a small bed for her and Toto in another corner of the room. In the middle of this room it is said that there is a trapped door that substitutes for a cellar, leading into a very dark hole in the ground for everyone to climb down into if a cyclone was to ever come near.
Baum portrayed Uncle Henry to be an all American red neck that worked extremely hard for what little he had and to simply make ends meet.
Due to the cyclone carrying away the farmhouse in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Henry mortgaged his farm in order to rebuild a new one. This crisis, combined with the stress of Dorothy's prolonged disappearance and sudden reappearance, took a toll on his health, and his doctor ordered him to take a vacation from all the labor. He took Dorothy with him on an ocean voyage to Australia, where he had cousins, but during this trip Dorothy was lost again during a storm, and for several weeks Henry believed she had drowned. She suddenly returned again, courtesy of the Nome King's Magic Belt (Ozma of Oz).
On their return to America, Henry visited Bill Hugson, a relative of his wife, while Dorothy stayed with friends in San Francisco. While traveling to meet him, Dorothy was lost in an earthquake and thought to be dead. Henry traveled back to Kansas alone, where Dorothy later reappeared after having enjoyed another adventure to the Land of Oz. (Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz)
Eventually, the cost of the cyclone damage and the travel expenses added up. Henry and Em confessed to Dorothy the extent of their financial problems, and revealed to her that their farm was on the verge of foreclosure. Dorothy solved this problem for them by bringing them to live with her in the Emerald City, as permanent guests of Princess Ozma. They were given a suite of rooms in the Royal Palace of Oz and Henry was given the job of "Keeper of the Jewels" in Ozma's treasure hoard for the purpose of keeping him occupied. However, both Henry and Emily later decided to live together in a little cottage on the outskirts of the Emerald City as the city's extravagance was a little too luxurious for their liking. (The Emerald City of Oz)
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (first appearance)
- Ozma of Oz
- Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
- The Emerald City of Oz
- The Patchwork Girl of Oz
- The Scarecrow of Oz
- The Tin Woodman of Oz (mentioned)
- The Magic of Oz
- Glinda of Oz
- The Royal Book of Oz (brief mention)
- Grampa in Oz (mentioned)
- The Scalawagons of Oz
The Wizard of Oz
Return to Oz
In Walt Disney's cult classic film Return to Oz, Uncle Henry is played by Matt Clark. In this version Uncle Henry had to build a new home after the cyclone hit the farm and carried the old farmhouse away six months prior.
Frank Alexander portrayed him as a villain in Larry Semon's 1925 Wizard of Oz film.
In the VeggieTales episode "The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's", both Uncle Henry and his wife Aunt Em were substituted by a father (Dad Asparagus) to retell "The Prodigal Son", a biblical parable from the Gospel.
In the American television program Lost, there is a character named Benjamin Linus who told survivors his name was Henry Gale and claimed to have arrived on the island via hot air balloon.