About the Author
L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) is the author of 69 children's books, including the popular 14 titles of the Oz series. He was born Lyman Frank Baum on May 15, 1856 near Syracause, New York. He had a privileged, if isolated childhood, due to wealthy parents and a congenitally weak heart. Instructed by a seroes of tutors, he spent a great deal of time in his oilman father's library, voraciously reading. As a young man, Baum returned home after a brief stint at a military academy, there to indulge his tastes in writing, stamp collecting and raising chickens. He grew up a man of great charm and many interests, but very little direction. At various times in his career, he ran was a reporter, an actor, theatre manager and playwright. One of his productions became a hit, and he traveled with its touring company throughout the U.S. and Canada during the 1880s. Returning home on a break in the schedule, Baum met Maud Gage, whom he married in November 1882. She provided him with the stability and common sense he lecked, as well as the discipline their children would require. When Maud was pregnant with their first child, all his play's scenery, props and costumes were destroyed by fire. He returned home to work in the family's oil business, all the while writing a succession of plays that were never produced. In the late 1880's, Baum moved his wife and two sons to the Dakota territory, where he worked as a shopkeeper and a newspaper editor. In spite of his enjoyment of them, both positions failed him financially. By 1891, he and Maud had four sons, and the family moved for a better life to Chicago. First a newspaper reporter, Baum soon took a better paying job as a traveling crockery salesman. At the advice of his mother-in-law, he began to write down some of the stories he made up to tell his sons in the evening. One of these tales, Mother Goose in Prose, was published to moderate success in 1897. Baum quit the road and became the editor of a journal for window-dressers. In 1899, he teamed with artist W.W. Denslow, and in 1899 published the follow-up "Father Goose, His Book", which became a best seller. In 1900, one of the five children's books he published with illustrations again by Denslow, was "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". The other 13 volumes followed in quick succession, intermingled with lesser works which eventually prompted Baum to reopen Oz, after declaring it closed midway through the series. He died in 1919, amid both failing health and a dwindling fortune.
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