Baum Lyman Frank

Photo Baum Lyman Frank
Lyman Frank Baum (May 15, 1856 – May 6, 1919) was an American author, poet, playwright, actor and independent filmmaker, best known today as the creator, along with illustrator W. W. Denslow, of one of the most popular books in American children's literature, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He wrote thirteen sequels, nine other fantasy novels, and a plethora of other works (55 novels in total (plus four "lost" novels), 82 short stories, over 200 poems, an unknown number of scripts, and many miscellaneous writings), and made numerous attempts to bring his works to the stage and screen. His works predicted such century-later commonplaces as color television, laptop computers (The Master Key), wireless telephones (Tik-Tok of Oz), and the ubiquity of advertising on clothing (Aunt Jane's Nieces at Work). Baum was born in Chittenango, New York in 1856, into a devout Methodist family of German (paternal line) and Scots-Irish (maternal line) origin, the seventh of nine children born to Cynthia Stanton and Benjamin Ward Baum, only five of whom survived into adulthood.[1] He was named "Lyman" after his father's brother, but always disliked this name, and preferred to go by his middle name, "Frank".[2] His mother, Cynthia Stanton, was a direct descendant of Thomas Stanton, one of the four Founders of what is now Stonington, Connecticut. Benjamin Baum was a wealthy businessman, originally a barrel maker, who had made his fortune in the oil fields of Pennsylvania. Baum grew up on his parents' expansive estate, Rose Lawn, which he always remembered fondly as a sort of paradise.[3] As a young child, he was tutored at home with his siblings, but at the age of 12 he was sent to study at Peekskill Military Academy. He was a sickly child given to daydreaming, and his parents may have thought he needed toughening up. But after two utterly miserable years at the military academy, he was allowed to return home.[4] Frank Joslyn Baum, in his biography, To Please a Child, claimed that this was following an incident described as a heart attack, though there is no contemporary evidence of this (and much evidence that material in Frank J.'s biography was fabricated). Baum started writing at an early age, perhaps due to an early fascination with printing. His father bought him a cheap printing press, and he used it to produce The Rose Lawn Home Journal with the help of his younger brother, Henry (Harry) Clay Baum, with whom he had always been close. The brothers published several issues of the journal and included advertisements they may have sold. By the time he was 17, Baum had established a second amateur journal, The Stamp Collector, printed an 11-page pamphlet called Baum's Complete Stamp Dealers' Directory, and started a stamp dealership with his friends.[5] At the age of 20, Baum took on a new vocation: the breeding of fancy poultry, which was a national craze at the time. He specialized in raising a particular breed of fowl, the Hamburg (chicken). In 1880 he established a monthly trade journal, The Poultry Record, and in 1886, when Baum was 30 years old, his first book was published: The Book of the Hamburgs: A Brief Treatise upon the Mating, Rearing, and Management of the Different Varieties of Hamburgs.[6] At about the same time, Baum embarked upon his lifetime infatuation with the theater,[7] a devotion which would repeatedly lead him to failure and near-bankruptcy. His first such failure occurred when a local theatrical company duped him into replenishing their stock of costumes, with the promise of leading roles that never came his way. Disillusioned, Baum left the theatre—temporarily—and went to work as a clerk in his brother-in-law's dry goods company in Syracuse. At one point, he found another clerk locked in a store room dead, an apparent suicide. This incident appears to have inspired his locked room story, "The Suicide of Kiaros", first published in the literary journal, The White Elephant. Yet Baum could never stay away from the stage long. He continued to take roles in plays, performing under the stage names of Louis F. Baum and George Brooks. In 1880, his father built him a theatre in Richburg, New York, and Baum set about writing plays and gathering a company to act in them. The Maid of Arran, a melodrama with songs based on William Black's novel A Princess of Thule, proved a modest success. Baum not only wrote the play but composed songs for it (making it a prototypical musical, as its songs relate to the narrative), and acted in the leading role. His aunt, Katharine Gray, played his character's aunt. She was the founder of Syracuse Oratory School, and Baum advertised his services in her catalog to teach theatre, including stage business, playwriting, directing, and translating (French, German, and Italian), revision, and operettas, though he was not employed to do so. On November 9, 1882, Baum married Maud Gage, a daughter of Matilda Joslyn Gage, a famous women's suffrage and radical feminist activist. While Baum was touring with The Maid of Arran, the theatre in Richburg caught fire during a production of Baum's ironically-titled parlor drama, Matches, and destroyed not only the theatre, but the only known copies of many of Baum's scripts, including Matches, as well as costumes and props. In July 1888, Baum and his wife moved to Aberdeen, Dakota Territory, where he opened a store, "Baum's Bazaar". His habit of giving out wares on credit led to the eventual bankrupting of the store,[8] so Baum turned to editing a local newspaper, The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, where he wrote a column, Our Landlady.[9] Baum's description of Kansas in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is based on his experiences in drought-ridden South Dakota. During much of this time, Matilda Joslyn Gage was living in the Baum household. While he was in South Dakota, Baum sang in a quartet that included a man who would become one of the first Populist (People's Party) Senators in the U.S., James Kyle. After Baum's newspaper failed in 1891, he, Maud and their four sons moved to Chicago, where Baum took a job reporting for the Evening Post. For several years he edited a magazine for advertising agencies focused on window displays in stores. The major department stores created elaborate Christmas time fantasies, using clockwork mechanism that made people and animals appear to move. He also had to work as a traveling salesman.[10] In 1897 he wrote and published Mother Goose in Prose, a collection of Mother Goose rhymes written as prose stories, and illustrated by Maxfield Parrish. Mother Goose was a moderate success, and allowed Baum to quit his door-to-door job. In 1899 Baum partnered with illustrator W. W. Denslow, to publish Father Goose, His Book, a collection of nonsense poetry. The book was a success, becoming the best-selling children's book of the year.[11] In 1900, Baum and Denslow (with whom he shared the copyright) published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to much critical acclaim and financial success.[12] The book was the best-selling children's book for two years after its initial publication. Baum went on to write thirteen more novels based on the places and people of the Land of Oz. Two years after Wizard's publication, Baum and Denslow teamed up with composer Paul Tietjens and director Julian Mitchell to produce a musical stage version of the book under Fred R. Hamlin.[13] Baum and Tietjens had worked on a musical of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1901 and based closely upon the book, but it was rejected. This stage version, the first to use the shortened title "The Wizard of Oz", opened in Chicago in 1902, then ran on Broadway for 293 stage nights from January to October 1903. It returned to Broadway in 1904, where it played from March to May and again from November to December. It successfully toured the United States with much of the same cast, as was done in those days, until 1911, and then became available for amateur use. The stage version starred David C. Montgomery and Fred Stone as the Tin Woodman and Scarecrow respectively, which shot the pair to instant fame. The stage version differed quite a bit from the book, and was aimed primarily at adults. Toto was replaced with Imogene the Cow, and Tryxie Tryfle, a waitress, and Pastoria, a streetcar operator, were added as fellow cyclone victims. The Wicked Witch of the West was eliminated entirely in the script, and the plot became about how the four friends, being allied with the usurping Wizard, were hunted as traitors to Pastoria II, the rightful King of Oz. It is unclear how much control or influence Baum had on the script; it appears that many of the changes were written by Baum against his wishes due to contractual requirements with Hamlin. Jokes in the script, mostly written by Glen MacDonough, called for explicit references to President Theodore Roosevelt, Senator Mark Hanna, and oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. Although use of the script was rather free-form, the line about Hanna was ordered dropped as soon as Hamlin got word of his death in 1904. Beginning with the success of the stage version, most subsequent versions of the story, including newer editions of the novel, have been titled "The Wizard of Oz", rather than using the full, original title. In more recent years, restoring the full title has become increasingly common, particularly to distinguish the novel from the Hollywood film. Baum wrote a sequel, The Woggle-Bug, but since Montgomery and Stone balked at appearing when the original was still running, the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman were omitted from this adaptation of The Marvelous Land of Oz, which was seen as a self-rip-off by critics and proved to be a major flop before it could reach Broadway. He also worked for years on a musical version of Ozma of Oz, which eventually became The Tik-Tok Man Of Oz. This did fairly well in Los Angeles, but not well enough to convince producer Oliver Morosco to mount a production in New York. He also began a stage version of The Patchwork Girl of Oz, but this was ultimately realized as a film. With the success of Wizard on page and stage, Baum and Denslow hoped lightning would strike a third time and in 1901 published Dot and Tot of Merryland.[14] The book was one of Baum's weakest, and its failure further strained his faltering relationship with Denslow. It would be their last collaboration. Baum would work primarily with John R. Neill on his fantasy work beginning in 1904, but Baum met Neill few times (all before he moved to California) and often found Neill's art not humorous enough for his liking, and was particularly offended when Neill published The Oz Toy Book: Cut-outs for the Kiddies without authorization.
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Baum Lyman Frank

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