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L. Frank Baum: The Man Behind the Wonder

How L. Frank Baum's life was reflected in his most famous work, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
by

Timothy Tomaino

on 19 July 2010

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Transcript of L. Frank Baum: The Man Behind the Wonder

L. Frank Baum:
The Man Behind the Wonder Born in an upstate New York village, Baum grew up in an unstable atmosphere roiled by his father's fluctuating business fortunes. May 15, 1856 His parents, Benjamin Ward Baum and Cynthia Stanton Baum, had nine children, but four of these died young.
His Father was a successful businessman. He even purchased some theaters in New York and Pennsylvania, which fostered Frank’s love of acting.
When Frank was 5, Benjamin Baum left a failing barrel factory (and an unpaid loan on it) and moved his family to the bustling city of Syracuse.
Educated at home by his mother until the age of 12 A two-year stint at a military academy (Peekskill Military Academy and the Syracuse Classical Academy ) proved miserable for Frank, whose preferred reading was the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. Frank ended his education in 1874, at the age of 18. 1880 became manager of some of his father’s theaters. He had his first big theatrical success in 1881, when he produced his musical play “The Maid of Arran.” The piece was a melodramatic love story set in the Scottish isles. In early 1881, he met an attractive young college girl named Maud Gage on November 9, 1882 Maud was a woman of strong opinions with a firm belief in feminism
The couple had four sons: Frank Jr., Robert Stanton, Harry Neal, and Kenneth Gage.
she managed the family finances Baum gave up acting and relied on income from the family oil business
Moved to Aberdeen, South Dakota in 1887… probably first began to dream of the Land of Oz while there. It was during this time that Baum’s legacy is tarnished by editorial comments he made in December 1890, just before the Wounded Knee Massacre.
Baum called for complete extermination of the Sioux. They settled in the thriving town of Aberdeen, where Baum ran a general goods store, known as Baum’s Bazaar Early 1891, the "Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer" had failed due to poor economic conditions, and Baum was forced to take the family back East to Chicago. He maintained a number of different occupations, including reporter and store-window decorator. Baum even helped establish the National Association of Window Trimmers, in 1897, and edited a trade journal on the subject. Inspiration A tornado reported in his Dakota newspaper that lifted a schoolhouse 300 feet in the air The blend of magic and fakery in the gleaming White City of the Chicago World's Fair. Inspiration 2 Encouraged by his mother-in-law, Matilda Gage, Baum began writing his stories down and publishing them. In 1897, just as Baum was discovering his vocation by turning the stories he told his sons into a collection published as “Father Goose: His Book” 1899
Gave him confidence This marked his first collaboration with illustrator William W. Denslow, who later drew the pictures for “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” The big, busy place to which people came to make their fortunes, to spruce up their brains and their hearts and their fortitude, to find a home Chicago Baum was 43 years old when he completed his most famous story in 1899. Originally named The Emerald City. The release of "The Wonderful Wizard in Oz" in September 1900 Baum also turned Oz into a hugely successful musical (1901), starring popular vaudeville stars as the Scarecrow and Tin Man. The production was an enormous hit and ran for 293 nights on Broadway between 1902 and 1911. He published adult fiction and other children's books, but always ended up writing more "Oz" tales because nothing else sold as well. By 1910, the Baums had moved to Los Angeles in order to reduce expenses and to enjoy the Southern California climate. A series of films produced during World War I were less successful, however, because of high production costs and Baum’s poor business sense. His studio, Oz Film Manufacturing Company, helped drive Baum into bankruptcy. His Majesty, The Scarecrow Of Oz In 1911 Baum's bankrupt By then he was living in Hollywood, and he salvaged his finances by cranking out an "Oz" title each year from 1913 on. Baum's death in 1919. Taking a look at Oz The Land of Oz described by Baum is an ideal fairyland, in which no one grows old or has to work too hard. ... It came out of his experiences out west, amid drought, cyclones and rural poverty, out of the gleaming fake White City of the Chicago World's Fair, and out of his fascination with illusions and tricks. Political Undertones Some readers have claimed to find political allegory in Baum’s creation. The Wizard of Oz represents populist political leader William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) Silver VS Gold Stands in for the debate over gold versus silver currency In the end... Sources

Julia Keller. (2009, August 30). From Chicago to Oz :New biography of L. Frank Baum reveals city's role in books, life. Chicago Tribune,p. 4.2. Retrieved April 21, 2010, from Chicago Tribune

Janet Maslin. (2009, August 24). Scarecrow, Lion, Tin Man And Freud, Too :. New York Times (Late Edition (east Coast)), p. C.1. Retrieved April 21, 2010, from Banking Information Source.

McKelvey, T.. (2009, August). FINDING OZ. New York Times Book Review,BR.16. Retrieved April 21, 2010, from Research Library Core.

Wendy Smith. (2009, August 23). Baum's yellow brick road filled with hard knocks; The Real Wizard of Oz; The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum; Rebecca Loncraine; Gotham Books: 416 pp., $2. Los Angeles Times,p. E.10. Retrieved April 21, 2010, from Los Angeles Times. What drove The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? Constraint Moving Troubled finances Feminist undertones
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