The Wonderful Land of Oz


By Douglas Horlock, published 1st December 2000

In the year of the centenary of the first publication of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L.Frank Baum, Douglas Horlock considers its political and intellectual context. On 7 May 1898, Frank Baum sat down in his Chicago home with a group of children including his sons. As on other occasions, he began to narrate a story about fantasy characters of his own creation. He recounted the words and actions of talking animals, wicked witches and a powerful wizard. At one point a young girl interrupted the narrative and asked where the characters lived. As he pondered a reply, Baum glanced around the room, focusing on a filing cabinet. It had three drawers, labelled A-G, H-N and O-Z. The Land of Oz was his reply and so was born a magical land for Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion and his other extraordinary characters.

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