Journalist and playwright Lyman Frank Baum (1856-1919) was born on this day in New York. A sickly child, he read fairy tales constantly.
"To please a child," he once said, "is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one's heart and brings its own reward."
Inspired by the writing of Charles Dickens, Baum was a natural storyteller. His oral tales would draw neighborhood children to his house before bedtime to hear his latest imaginary installment. He would weave tales of imagination from everyday objects--pumpkins, scarecrows, dogs...
Believing children craved "gorgeousness, color and kaleidoscopic succession of inspiring incident," he said, "There is nothing humdrum about the average child."
Urged by his mother-in-law to write his tales down, he sold his first book in 1897, Mother Goose in Prose which introduced the character Dorothy.
In 20 years he wrote over 70 books and is best known for his famous novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). His goal was to create a fairy tale in which "all the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out."
"Modern education includes morality; therefore the modern child needs only entertainment," he wrote in the book's introduction. The book gave birth to a series of novels and the unforgettable 1939 MGM film classic.
Through his memorable and beloved Oz characters, Dorothy Gale, her dog, Toto, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Woodman, and the Scarecrow, Baum wrote about love, courage, and intelligence. And that there is "no place like home..."
Judy Garland was 17 when she played the 11 year old Dorothy. Her portrayal of Baum's heroine left an indelible tattoo in our hearts, that the dreams you dare to dream really do come true somewhere over the rainbow.
Click your heels three times...