L. Frank Baum, the man who wrote “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” famously did it with one pencil, in one great blast.
But the Wizard of Oz didn’t come out of nowhere. Baum was 44. By 1899, he’d worked and failed as a chicken farmer, an actor, an oil-can merchant, a traveling salesman.
He’d ventured west to the Dakotas. Seen wonders. Feared Sitting Bull. Suffered a fierce mother-in-law. Searched for his own True Self.
And then, wrote the great American fairy tale. Of Kansas and Dorothy, Toto and a wizard. He was the JK Rowling of his day. This hour, On Point: Finding Oz.
You can join the conversation. What is it about this story — the book, the movie, Dorothy, Toto, “There’s no place like home” — that gets us going? Can you feel the currents that must have inspired L. Frank Baum? Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
Evan Schwartz is a former editor at BusinessWeek and author of “Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story.” His previous book is “The Last Lone Inventor: A Tale of Genius, Deceit, and the Birth of Television.”
Find an illustrated reprint edition of Baum’s original “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” (1900) using Google Book Search.
The full text of the original edition is online at Project Gutenberg.
And here is a famous scene from the 1939 movie (from YouTube):