Wednesday, May 15, 2013
May 15 - L. Frank Baum
Author Lyman Frank Baum was born May 15, 1856, in Chittenango, NY, near Syracuse. Born into a wealthy family with nine siblings, he had a weak heart and was sensitive and shy. He studied theater in New York, then pursued failed business ventures in South Dakota and Chicago. In 1897 he published Mother Goose in Prose, children’s fairytales he had created in his youth to avoid the violent tales of the era. Its success led to the best-selling Father Goose: His Book (1899), with pictures by artist W.W. Denslow. In 1900 he published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, also illustrated by Denslow, which was instantly successful. Some characters and themes had personal relevance. As a child, Baum had nightmares of being chased by a scarecrow that would disintegrate before its "ragged hay fingers" reached his neck. He said that the name "Oz" came from his file cabinet labeled "O-Z." The story of the wizard focuses on power and the importance of self-belief to avoid the deceptions of the powerful.