Baum, L. Frank

Baum, L. Frank (Lyman Frank Baum) bôm [key], 1856–1919, American journalist, playwright, and author of children's stories, b. Chittenango, N.Y. He and his family moved to South Dakota in 1888, where he ran a newspaper, and to Chicago in 1891, where he worked as a journalist. At various times, he also worked as an actor, playwright, shop owner, and salesman. His first children's book, Mother Goose in Prose (1897), was followed by Father Goose: His Book (1899), which was an immediate best seller. In 1900 he published his most famous work, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a story about a little girl carried by a tornado to the magical land of Oz. Baum's dramatization of the book was produced in 1902; the story was made into a popular motion picture in 1938. Although he wrote more than 70 children's books, Baum's fame rests largely on The Wizard and his 13 other stories of Oz, including Ozma of Oz (1907) and The Scarecrow of Oz (1915), all of which emphasize practicality, self-reliance, tolerance, egalitarianism, and other attributes regarded as American virtues.

See M. P. Hearn, ed., The Annotated Wizard of Oz (1973, upd. ed. 2000); biographies by K. M. Rogers (2002) and R. Loncraine (2009); E. I. Schwartz, Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story (2009).

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