Monday, August 24, 2009

Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday and L. Frank Baum

A shy child, L. Frank Baum grew into an adult who attempted many different jobs with varying degrees of success: chicken breeder, acting, salesman, managing theatres, newspaper work, playwright. He even began a magazine on window dressing.

He was a caring, nurturing father of his own children and would spend hours a day comforting and soothing them.

Frank wrote and published his first book when he was 41. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz became one of the best-selling books for children in the 20th century.

For nearly two decades this prolific author wrote and published over 60 books and many short stories and poems. He would never write a book again with the mythical magic and sales power of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Rather than this daunting him Frank continued to write, refusing to rest on the laurels of his first book.

Librarians decreed The Wonderful Wizard of Oz a dull read and flat in style. It was kept off library shelves until 1960.

In 1911 Frank declared bankruptcy. Despite his financial woes, he remained his chirpy, determined self and continued to attempt new things.

His health began to deteriorate in 1917. He suffered from gall bladder problems and spent a lot of time bedridden where he continued to write and remained optimistic until the day he died. Just before he died, he said: "Now we can cross the Shifting Sands."

L. Frank Baum is an inspiration for the way he continued to strive for his dreams despite hardships, heartbreak and disappointments. To me he epitomises that wonderful American 'can do' spirit I've always admired.

For all of us who have thrilled to the ever eternal magic of The Wizard of Oz, for those of us who still feel a thrill when we see a pair of ruby slippers or hear the words, "There's no place like home!" – let us pay homage to the Wizard of words and magical tales, L Frank Baum, on this Magnificent, Marvellous, Mighty Monday.

"When I was young I longed to write a great novel that should win me fame. Now that I am getting old my first book is written to amuse children. For, aside from my evident inability to do anything 'great,' I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-the-wisp which when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one's heart and brings its own reward."
L. Frank Baum

image of Frank:

image of book:


  1. What a great story. I never knew. I love the last quote from him.

  2. I'll never forget that feeling of pride when I finished my first "thick" book in second grade...Ozma of Oz by Frank Baum.

  3. That is so encouraging to know that he wrote his first book at 41. Lord knows I might be 41 by the time I finish mine!

  4. This is a great story which I've never heard. My autistic neice is an avid lover of Wizard of Oz. She especially likes Dorothy and clicking her "red shoes" together. A classic story, it will live on and on, thanks to the determined efforts of Frank Baum. Thanks for sharing his story.

  5. Simone, I didn't know all of his story either. I had read some things about him but had forgotten a lot.
    Willow, I can just see you as a little Willow feeling all chuffed and rightly so!
    Jennifer, as long as you finish your book whilst I'm still around to read it!
    Thanks Joyful. I'll come and say hi to you on your Blog soon. xx

  6. Interesting post! I will have to admit that for whatever reason, the movie of the Wizard Of Oz used to scare me when I was a child. I don't remember if it was the bad witch or the tornado that scared me more! ~xo~ Janet

  7. Love your background/bio posts! Again, I had no idea of the story behind yet another successful classic. Your bog is becoming invaluable :) Well done xx

  8. Janet, I think it's also scary in places. I know my partner was totally terrified by the flying monkeys as a child. But he loves the movie so much and wants it to be the first 'real' movie our daughter sees on the big screen if we can manage it.
    Sharon, often the story behind the story is even more incredible, isn't it? He was a pretty inspiring guy. A good choice for myself this week! xx

  9. This is so interesting! I will read more about him now, seeing as I have just a BIT of an obsession about The Wizard Of Oz. Pop over to my blog, if you like, where you'll find I've been making Wizard of Oz greeting cards. Thanks for this post! Wendy xx


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