The Oz series is a popular children's book series which has attracted a significant fan base. It began with L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, with illustrations by W.W. Denslow, published in 1900. Baum did not intend to start a series; however, readers enjoyed it so much that they called for a sequel, and he needed the money after moving to Hollywood. While Baum tried to end the series at least twice, he ended up writing fourteen books. After his death, other authors continued the series up to 1963.
While Baum himself stated that he wrote Wizard of Oz "solely to please children of today", the Oz books have addressed or left significantly unaddressed several philosophical questions. The political themes arguably present in the original The Wizard of Oz in 1900 and the Broadway play based on it were not continued in the rest of the series. The famous 1939 movie version is based on the 1900 original.
Impact on readers
The 40 Oz books had a significant impact on their young middle class readers who read them in English, Spanish, Russian, French, German, Romanian, Latin, Hebrew, or Arabic editions. Novelist Gore Vidal (born 1925) recalls:
Like most Americans my age (with access to books) I spent a good deal of my youth in Baum's Land of Oz. I have a precise, tactile memory of the first Oz book that came into my hands. It was the original 1910 edition of The Emerald City of Oz. I still remember the look and the feel of those dark blue covers, the evocative smell of dust and old ink. I also remember that I could not stop reading and rereading the book. But 'reading' is not the right word. In some mysterious way, I was translating myself to Oz, a place which I was to inhabit for many years .... With The Emerald City, I became addicted to reading."
Baum stated in the preface to Wizard of Oz that he wanted to eliminate "old time fairy tale... with all the horrible and blood-curdling incidents devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale." Indeed, in the first book, Dorothy only kills the two wicked witches by accident, even "clasping her hands together in dismay" when she sees that her house has fallen on the Wicked Witch of the East and saying, "I'm very sorry, indeed," when she accidentally melts the Wicked Witch of the West with a bucket of water.
Hardly a single villain is killed throughout the Oz books. In the sixth book, Baum even has Ozma (the ruler of Oz) say when faced with an invasion, "No one has the right to destroy any living creatures, however evil they may be, or to hurt them or make them unhappy. I will not fight, even to save my kingdom." Fortunately for Baum's protagonists, the enemies are defeated by the magic "Waters of Oblivion," which make them forget their plans of conquest. Such magical solutions often reappear; the villain in Lost Princess of Oz is transformed into a dove and the villains in Magic of Oz are rendered harmless by being made to forget their magical knowledge.
While such magic provides an easy solution within the Oz books, Baum opposed violence even when no other solution was possible. In the non-Oz book Enchanted Isle of Yew, Baum's protagonist refuses to execute a group of defeated bandits even after everyone has admitted that it would be just, instead presuming that their quick repentance is genuine. Within the context of the story, this strategy works: the bandits actually do repent and come to the protagonist's aid later in the book.
List of official Oz books
Forty official Oz books were published by the original publishers. Fans have written and published many unofficial books; however, these mostly do not have the permission of the original authors and are mostly considered unofficial.
By L. Frank Baum
|1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz||1900||Yes|
|2. The Marvelous Land of Oz||July 1904||Yes|
|3. Ozma of Oz||1907||Yes|
|4. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz||1908||Yes|
|5. The Road to Oz||1909||Yes|
|6. The Emerald City of Oz||1910||Yes|
|7. The Patchwork Girl of Oz||??||Yes|
|8. Tik-Tok of Oz||1914||Yes|
|9. The Scarecrow of Oz||1915||Yes|
|10. Rinkitink in Oz||1916||Yes||This was originally a non-Oz book entitled King Rinkitink, which Baum adapted into an Oz book by having the main character be rescued by Dorothy at the end.|
|11. The Lost Princess of Oz||1917||Yes|
|12. The Tin Woodman of Oz||1918||Yes|
|13. The Magic of Oz||1919||Yes|
|14. Glinda of Oz||1915||Yes|
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
After Baum's death, his publisher (with Baum's wife's consent) hired Ruth Plumly Thompson, a popular childrens' book author, to continue the series.
Thompson's earlier books moved into the public domain before the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act; her later books are also public-domain because she neglected to renew the copyright.
|15. The Royal Book of Oz||1921||Yes||This book was falsely claimed to be based on an original draft by Baum.|
|16. Kabumpo in Oz||1922||Yes|
|17. The Cowardly Lion of Oz||1923||No; still under copyright.|
|18. Grampa in Oz||1924||No; still under copyright.|
|19. The List King of Oz||1925||No; still under copyright.|
|20. The Hungry Tiger of Oz||1926||No; still under copyright.|
|21. The Gnome King of Oz||1927||No; still under copyright.|
|22. The Giant Horse of Oz||1928||No; still under copyright.|
|23. Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz||1929||No; still under copyright.|
|24. The Yellow Knight of Oz||1930||No; still under copyright.|
|25. Pirates in Oz||1931||No; still under copyright.|
|26. The Purple Prince of Oz||1932||No; still under copyright.|
|27. Ojo in Oz||1933||No; still under copyright.|
|28. Speedy in Oz||1934||No; still under copyright.|
|29. The Wishing Horse of Oz||1935||Yes|
|30. Captain Salt in Oz||1936||Yes|
|31. Handy Mandy in Oz||1937||Yes|
|32. The Silver Princess in Oz||1938||Yes|
|33. Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz||1939||Yes|
By Neill, Snow, Cosgrave, and McGraw
|34. The Wonder City of Oz||John R. Neill||1940|
|35. The Scalawagons of Oz||John R. Neill||1941|
|36. Lucky Bucky in Oz||John R. Neill||1942|
|37. The Magical Mimics in Oz||Jack Snow||1946|
|38. The Shaggy Man of Oz||Jack Snow||1949|
|39. The Hidden Valley of Oz||Rachel R. Cosgrave||1951|
|40. Merry Go Round in Oz||Eloise Jarvis McGraw & Lauren McGraw Wagner||1963|
- Quoted in , Nicholas Von Hoffman, "Flimflam Land. Civilization, Feb/Mar2000, Vol. 7, Issue 1
- Archives of "The Ozzy Digest," a discussion group for fans of the Oz series. Parts of it have been sorted into discussions about each individual book.
- Official website of the International Wizard of Oz Club