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Frank Baum

1856-1919

American journalist, playwright, and author of juvenile stories

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Lyman Frank Baum , usually abbreviated to L. Frank Baum ( Chittenago , 15 May 1856 - Glendale , 6 May 1919 ), was a writer U.S. . A Baum was responsible for the novel 's most famous children's literature American, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz .

Baum was born in Chittenango , in upstate New York . Son of Benjamin Ward Baum and Cynthia Stanton, a native of Germany , was the seventh of nine children, of whom only five reached the age of majority. It was named "Lyman" in honor of his paternal uncle, but always preferred to be called "Frank".

Benjamin Baum was a wealthy businessman who had made ​​his fortune in the oil fields of Pennsylvania . Frank grew up in the big house of the parents, Rose Lawn ("meadow of roses"), a place she remembered for a lifetime as a kind of paradise. As a child he had a teacher who taught him and his brothers at home, but at the age of 12 he was sent to the Military Academy in Peekskill . Frank was a sickly child and a dreamer, and perhaps the decision to send him to the Academy was motivated by the desire of parents to reinforce its character and constitution. After two painful years at the academy, Frank had an accident that was described by doctors as a heart attack , and he was allowed to go home.

From an early age, Frank proved to love the printed paper and writing. His father bought him a small printing press , Frank, with the help of his younger brother Harry Clay Baum, used to make a newspaper, The Rose Lawn Home Journal . The journal were published several numbers and the two brothers went so far to be able to sell some advertising space on their pages. At the age of 17 years, Frank had started a second newspaper amateur, The Stamp Collector ("The Collector of Stamps").

At the same time, Frank develop a passion for the theater that would have accompanied him throughout his life, leading him several times close to bankruptcy. His first failure was at the age of 18, when a local theater company convinced him to finance the purchase of a new wardrobe of costumes, promising to make it act as a protagonist on the stage, that promise was not kept then. Disillusioned, Baum moved away (temporarily) from the theater and began working as a clerk in the company of his brother in Syracuse .

At twenty, Baum discovered a new vocation, ' poultry , and specialized in breeding of a particular breed of chicken , the ' Hamburg . In 1880 he founded a new paper on the rearing of poultry exhibition, The Poultry Record , and in 1886 , thirty years, he published his first book, The Book of the Hamburgs: A Brief Treatise upon the Mating, Rearing, and Management of the Different Varieties of Hamburgs ("The Book of Hamburg: short treatise on mating, breeding and management of different varieties of Hamburg").

The poultry farm, however, was not enough to keep Baum far from the theater. Baum recited several times with the pseudonym of Louis F. Baum, and in 1880 he became director of a chain of theaters owned by the father. From that moment Baum began writing for the theater and companies to hire actors that act. Was a great success with The Maid of Arran , a melodrama based on a popular novel, for which he also wrote some songs and in which he played the title role.

On 9 November 1882 , Baum married Maud Gage , daughter of Matilda Joslyn Gage , a well-known activist in the women's suffrage .

In July 1888 , Baum and his wife moved to Aberdeen in South Dakota , where Baum opened a store, "Baum's Bazaar." The habit of Baum to make systematic credit to customers, however, soon brought the store into bankruptcy. Returning to his old passions, Baum founded a new newspaper, The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer , which took care of personally heading "Our Landlady". The description that Baum would years later of Kansas , in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz , is largely based on his memories of the arid land of South Dakota

The Pioneer failed (in 1891 ), and Baum moved to Chicago , where Frank began working as a reporter for the ' Evening Post and, at the same time, such as door-to-door seller of porcelain. The turning point came in 1897 , when Baum published Mother Goose in Prose , a collection of nursery rhymes of Mother Goose transcribed in prose and illustrated by Maxfield Parrish . The book was a great success, and Baum was able to leave his job as a salesman.

In 1899 , in collaboration with illustrator WW Denslow , Baum published Father Goose: His Book , a collection of poems nonsense , which became the children's book of the year's best-selling.

In 1900 , Baum and Denslow published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz , which was a huge success, critical acclaim, the Wizard of Oz was also a bestseller for two consecutive years. On the basis of this success, Baum realized in the years following thirteen novels set in the Land of Oz .

Two years after the publication of The Wizard of Oz , Baum and Denslow joined the composer Paul Tietjens and conductor Julian Mitchell to make an adaptation of the novel in musicals . The show was performed in Broadway 293 times from 1902 to 1911 , and was later taken on tour for all the United States . We recited Dave Montgomery (in the role of the Tin Woodman ) and Fred Stone (the Scarecrow ), who became famous with its spectacle. The stage adaptation was a bit 'different from the novel and was intended for an adult audience. The dog Toto was replaced with "the cow Imogene," were also introduced two new characters, victims of the cyclone with Dorothy : the waitress Tryxie Tryfle and tramviere Pastoria.

In 1901 , Baum and Denslow collaborated on a new project, the novel Dot and Tot of Merryland , which proved a failure, and put an end to the partnership between the two.

Baum continued to write novels on the Land of Oz, although on several occasions claimed to want to stop and engage in romances with other settings (among them, we can mention The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus and Queen Zixi of Ix ). Request of the public and children, however, in the end he always returned to his Baum series luckier.

For his books "non-Oz," Baum used several pseudonyms, including Edith Van Dyne (for the series Aunt Jane's Nieces ), Laura Bancroft ( Twinkle and Chubbins , Policeman Bluejay ), Floyd Akers (the series of Sam Steele ) Suzanne Metcalf ( Annabel ), Schuyler Staunton ( Daughters of Destiny ), John Estes Cooke and "Captain" Hugh Fitzgerald. He also published an anonymous book, The Last Egyptian: A Romance of the Nile .

In the last years of his life, Baum went into debt, and his situation was made ​​worse by health problems. He continued to write and fund musical , obtaining further economic damage. One of the most catastrophic fiascos was his Fairylogues and Radio Plays ( 1908 ), a play that combined experimental slide and film sequences, the actors on stage and Baum who read a sort of travel diary in the Land of Oz. Baum was not able to repay the company that made ​​the film, and it took almost a decade to fix up its economy. Among other things, he had to sell the rights to most of his works, including the Wizard of Oz .

Baum died on 6 May 1919 and was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale (California) .

His latest book, Glinda of Oz , was published in 1920 , a year after his death. The series of Oz was continued by other authors, including Ruth Plumly Thompson (who wrote nineteen novels of the series).

During the events that led to the Wounded Knee Massacre , Baum wrote an editorial racist for Saturday Pioneer , defining "dogs whining" the Native Americans and hoping that they were exterminated . After the massacre, Baum rising dose in a second editorial, in which he criticized the U.S. government for being too bland and insisting that the natives were "wiped off the face of the Earth." Both editorials were written by Baum in the period in which his fortune was in decline. Some of the books of Baum, including two series of Oz, have been criticized for using racist stereotypes in reappresentazione of African Americans .

A common error in the interpretation of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz is to read it as a parable on populism (especially with reference to bimetallism ). Nothing in his biography of Baum supports this interpretation, although there are some curious parallels between certain passages in the book and some historical figures.

Baum was originally a follower of the Episcopal Church , but in 1897 he and his wife became theosophists . His religious opinions, however, do not show through in his writings. In the whole series of Oz appears only once a church, that of porcelain that Dorothy knocks in the Wizard of Oz .
The Baum sent their sons to "Ethical Culture Sunday School" in Chicago, which gave moral teachings but not religious.


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