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.
Here’s what some reviewers had to say about the first edition of this classic book that went on to enchant countless readers worldwide.
L Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” book review from San Francisco
From The San Francisco Call (California) November 18, 1900
“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.)
Kansas as a Basis for Fairies: Wizard of Oz book review from Missouri
From The Shelbina Democrat (Missouri) November 14, 1900
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” By L Frank Baum and illustrated by W W Denslow
Willam Wallace Denslow has drawn a series of graphic and interesting pictures for a new fairy book called ”The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” In them, he has adopted a color scheme as original as it is interesting.
The scene of the story opens in Kansas, a state which has been heard from in many other respects, but not in connection with fairies until this new publication. The text explains that Kansas is gray, and the first, or Kansas chapter is illustrated with gray as well.
The little girl of the story, who is a Dorothy, like a majority of the children in the rising generation, leaves Kansas on the wings of a cyclone, house, little dog Toto, and all.
She lands in the country of the Munchkins, presided over by the Wicked Witch of the East.
The inhabitants, who dress in blue, and color the pictures drawn by Mr. Denslow accordingly, receive the little Kansas girl with affection, because the house from the cyclone-swept prairies settled down on the Wicked Witch and crushes her to death.
This is the one false note in the story, the rather ghastly fate meted out to the Witch belying the introduction when it says: “Modern education includes morality; therefore, the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder tales and gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incident,” a statement that makes the reader wonder what people of antiquity it was among whom education did not include morality. Certainly, the thought of being crushed is “disagreeable.”
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: First edition, 10,000 copies, exhausted!
From the New York Times (August 25, 1900)
The Wonderful Wizard is an original departure in children’s literature, in every way novel and unique.
The text is charming and will prove interesting to both young and old.
The illustrations surpass anything of the kind hitherto attempted. Those in the text — 150 — are printed in six different colors, while there are 24 inserts in eight colors. The cover is of specially-made cloth, elaborately stamped.
The funniest — the handsomest — the most elaborate child’s book ever published
George M Hill Company, Publishers
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” book review from Baltimore
From The Baltimore Sun (Maryland) September 20, 1900
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” By L. Frank Baum. George M. Hill & Co., Chicago and New York
This is a modern fairy tale for children. It is one which will delight all boys and girls who are not precociously skeptical and matter-of-fact.
The book is in every way unique and attractive. There are 24 full-page illustrations in many colors and 150 text illustrations printed in six different colors. The pictorial effects are decidedly original and the color scheme adds greatly to the novelty of the book. The artist has shown unusual fertility of invention.
The principal character in this wonder-tale is a little girl named Dorothy, who, with her dog Tato, 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 of Oz, to send her back to her home in Kansas.
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.
This little party have the most extraordinary ventures on their way to the Emerald City, but finally reach their destination in safety.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz proves to be a humbug, but finally, through the assistance of good witches, little Dorothy is able to return to her home.
The story is ingeniously written and will hold the interest of every imaginative child.
When the classic story started: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book from 1900
Illustrations from the early editions of the book, as drawn by WW Denslow
“You must be a great sorceress”
See the wonderful Wizard of Oz trailer – plus ads from its premiere (1939)
More W W Denslow art from ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ vintage book
“The tinsmiths worked for four days and three nights”
The Great and Mighty Oz
This booklet was passed down to me from my grandparents.
Do you know what it is worth now?