Even though Judy Garland and MGM made the Wizard of Oz famous, the book is the brainchild of author L. Frank Baum, who was born on May 15, 1856. A sickly child, Baum spent his early years with his made-up playmates. His parents were worried about his mental wanderings and sent him to a military school in an attempt to focus his thinking. Fortunately it didn’t work. With interests as diverse as newspaper publishing (he published his first at age 15), raising chickens, and performing Shakespeare, Baum had much to write about. In the introduction to The Lost Princess of Oz be writes: “Imagination has given us the steam engine, the telephone, the talking-machine, and the automobile, for these things had to be dreamed of before they became realities. So I believe that dreams—day dreams…with your eyes wide open…are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to create, to invent, and therefore to foster civilization.” His first literary work was the Maid of Arron and many more followed, some under the pen names Louis F. Baum and George Brooks. Beginning with the Marvelous Land of Oz, he wrote 17 sequels to his original Oz book. “My books are intended for all those whose hearts are young, no matter what their ages may be.” Mr. Baum died in 1919.
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