Thirty-nine years before the movie The Wizard of Oz was released (and seven years before the stage musical), the first title in the Oz series made its debut. It was an instant hit — in fact, the first edition run of 10,000 sold out faster than a Kansas cyclone.

By 1956, when the book’s original copyright expired, there were more than three million copies in print… and there were also another 13 Oz titles on bookshelves around the world.

Antique Wonderful Wizard of Oz book review - L Frank Baum and Denslow pictures

L Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book review

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” by L Frank Baum, with pictures by W. W. Denslow (the creators of “Father Goose: His Book”), was published September 1 by the George M Hill Company of Chicago and New York.

The book is in every way novel and unique. In size, it is about 9×7 inches, with 275 pages. The binding is of cloth of a peculiar light green stamped with a grotesque design in dark green and red.

There are twenty-four full-page illustrations, inserts on enamel paper, in many colors, and 150 text illustrations printed in six different colors, in accordance with a color plan set forth, in the story. Some of the effects are decidedly original, and the color scheme adds greatly to the book.

The principal character in “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is a little girl named Dorothy, who with her dog Toto is carried by a cyclone from Kansas to the strange and beautiful land of Oz. Here she decides to visit the Emerald City to ask its ruler, the wonderful wizard Oz, to send her back home again.

On the way she meets a scarecrow, who is in search of brains; a tin woodman, who wishes a heart; and a cowardly lion, whose one desire is to possess courage.

The little party encounter many dangers and marvelous adventures on the way, but reach the Emerald City in safety, their success being due to the thoughtfulness of the Scarecrow, the tender care of the Tin Woodman, and the fearlessness of the Cowardly Lion. (Price $1.50.)


When the classic story started: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book review from 1900

Illustrations from the early edition of the book drawn by WW Denslow

WW Denslow art for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Dorothy and the Scarecrow - vintage Oz book

See the wonderful Wizard of Oz trailer – plus ads from its premiere (1939)

WW Denslow art for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book review - Cowardly Lion

Vintage Wizard of Oz book review

Meeting the Wizard of Oz - vintage book review


About this story

Source publication: The San Francisco Call

Source publication date: November 18, 1900

Notes: Book Reviews and Literary Chat

Filed under: 1900s, Books, Entertainment

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