Map of Kansas Literature [graphic] dotClick your heels three times and return home to Kansas

The Wonderful land of Oz
L. Frank Baum

L. Frank Baum

The Wizard of Oz cover

Ozma of Oz cover

The Patchwork Girl of Oz cover

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz cover

The Scarecrow of Oz cover

Rinkitink in Oz cover

The Tin Woodman cover

The Magic of Oz cover

Glinda of Oz cover


Movie Poster for the Wizard of Oz



Lyman Frank Baum (May 15, 1856 - May 6, 1919) was a businessman, actor, and independent filmaker, but his true love was writing. Baum was named Lyman after his father’s brother, but always disliked the name so instead went by his middle name, Frank. He is most famous for his children's book series The Oz Series.

In the winter of 1882, Baum’s play The Maid of Arran brought him on a tour of the United States which included stops in both Lawrence and Olathe, Kansas. After this very brief visit, Baum never returned.

L. Frank Baum never lived in Kansas and his experience there was limited to only one or two days, yet his Oz book series has become a definitive part of the state. There is strong speculation that Baum’s Kansas influence may have come from William Allen White, a friend of Baum and a Kansas native.

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Bibliography ( - housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)  

L. Frank Baum published 55 novels, 82 short stories, and over 200 poems. Along with publishing under his own name L. Frank Baum, many of his books were published under the pseudonyms: Edith Van Dyne, Floyd Akers, Schuyler Staunton, John Estes, Suzanne Metcalf, Laura Bancroft, and Anonymous.

Author poster

Baum wrote fourteen Oz Books in two series, the Oz Series and the Little Wizard Stories.


Books About Frank Baum

The Movies

Complete list of movies.
Review of Nurse Betty by Thomas Fox Averill.

Oz theme park, now abandoned, is open only one day a year.

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Writing Samples  

The Wizard of Oz (a complete online script)

Kansas as described in The Wizard of Oz

 These are all descriptions that Baum gives of Kansas in The Wizard of Oz. This also, thanks to this book, is the view that much of the world has of the state: Vast, dark, gloomy, and full of tornados.

All excerpts are from the annotated edition of The Wizard of Oz

Page 18
“Not a tree nor a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached the sky in all directions. The sun had baked the plowed land into a gray mass, with little cracks running through it. Even the grass was not green, for the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until they were the same gray color to be seen everywhere. Once the house had been painted, but the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed it away, and now the house was as dull and gray as everything else.”

Page 18
“When Aunt Em came there to live she was a young, pretty wife. The sun and wind had changed her, too. They had taken the sparkle from her eyes and left them a sober gray; they had taken the red from her cheeks and lips, and they were gray also. She was thin and gaunt, and never smiled now.”

Page 20
“Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night and did not know what joy was. He was gray also, from his long beard to his rough boots, and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke.”

Pages 75 and 76
“Tell me something about yourself, and the country you come from,” said the scarecrow when she had finished her dinner. So she told him all about Kansas, and how gray everything was there, and how the cyclone had carried her to this queer land of Oz. The scarecrow listened carefully and said, “I cannot understand why you should wish to leave this beautiful country and go back to the dry gray place you call Kansas.”
“That is because you have no brains,” answered the girl. “No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.”

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Below are several photos from a 1903 edition of The Wizard of Oz

The front cover
The front cover.

The front endsheet
The front cover pages.

the dedication and first chapter page
The dedication and first chapter page.

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Author Interview  

The following was origanally published in the Philadelphia North American (3 October 1904). Reprinted in The Baum Bugle, Spring 1985.


    "I was out on a California beach," said L. Frank Baum. "There was a pretty little girl I was very much interested in beside me. She was making sand pies and enjoying herself immensely, when suddenly she saw one of those little sand crabs, fiddler crabs I suppose they are.

    ‘Oh, what is it?’ she said.

    ‘A wogglebug,’ I said, unthinkingly, using the first term that popped into my head.

    ‘The child was delighted and ran to her parents shouting: ‘Oh, see what I’ve got! It’s a wogglebug. Mr. Baum says it’s a wogglebug.’

    "The name was so catchy that the same evening my wife told me I should put the Wogglebug in ‘The Marvelous Land of Oz.’ The book was one-third written and Jack Pumpkinhead was the hero, but I brought in the Wogglebug right away.

    "After that H.M. Wogglebug T.E. was the hero and has become my most popular character."

    In this little anecdote the creator of the most popular fairy tale of his day and generation yesterday told the origin of the wonderful humanized insect who answers the questions which puzzle his companions every week in The North American.

    At the same time he was giving his interviewer an insight into why Mr. Baum for twenty years has been charming children wherever the English language is read. For the creator of the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Gump and all the other imaginative troupe loves children.


    "Not a day passes," he says, "but I get a letter from a child. They come sometimes singly, sometimes in batches of 50 or 100. Entire classes, where school teachers have read my stories, have written to me. I answer every one personally. When I was a child I know how, if I had received a real letter from an author whose book I’d read, I would have been the happiest boy alive.

    "And if I am to do any good in this world my highest ambition will be to make children happy."

    And this led to an inquiry into these fairy tales themselves, into what first suggested to Mr. Baum the idea of writing them. The answer might have been expected. It was that, in the first place, Mr. Baum had been just like most other children, a very vivacious reader of fairy tales. In the second place he had done what many other grown ones have done, told fairy tales to children.

    "I demanded fairy stories when I was a youngster," he explained, "and I was a critical reader too. One thing I never liked then, and that was the introduction of witches and goblins into the story. I didn’t like the little dwarfs in the woods bobbing up with their horrors.

    "That’s why you’ll never find anything in my fairy tales which frightens a child. I remember my own feelings well enough to determine that I would never be responsible for a child’s nightmare.

    "Then, when I had children of my own, I used to sit in front of the grate fire and tell fairy tales to them before they were sent to bed. My wife begged me to write them down; told me they were much better than lots that were printed. I did and there you are."

    Simple, isn’t it? That’s what started Mr. Baum on his way to becoming the most widely read author in the United States today.

    He has written altogether sixteen books of fairy tales, every one of which is now selling.

    "The Wizard of Oz" has sold 780,000 copies, the largest sale on record, and one which shows no sign of stopping.

    His income from his books is larger than that of the President of the United States.

    But better than all this, Mr. Baum thinks, is that he has opened up new fairy lands for children, peopled with new characters, grotesque enough to catch a child’s errant family, funny enough to amuse them, humanized enough to make them lovable.


    It was an odd idea thought the interviewer to endow such inanimate objects with life, and as a final question he asked Mr. Baum the origin of his curious beings who wander through his pages. And again the answer led straight back to the child.

    "When I was a boy I was tremendously interested in scarecrows. They always seemed to my childish imagination as just about to wave their arms, straighten up and stalk across the field on their long legs. I lived on a farm, you know. It was natural then that my first character in this animated life series was the scarecrow, on whom I have taken revenge for all the mystic feeling he once inspired.

    "Then came the Tin Woodman, named because of the oddity of a Woodman made of tin, and then Pumpkinhead, and now, of course, the Wogglebug."

   The interviewer couldn’t resist it. Here was the fountain head.

    "And what, Mr. Baum, did the Wogglebug say?"

    But Mr. Baum only smiled.


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This web-page compiled by Chelsea Hochstetler.