Celebrating the 120-Year History of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Rediscovering the book series that redefined children's literature.

the wonderful wizard of oz first five books by l frank baum

On May 17, 1900, L. Frank Baum published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. According to Baum himself, the name for his magical land came from the most mundane of places. As he told Publisher's Weekly in 1903, "I have a little cabinet letter file on my desk in front of me. I was thinking and wondering about a title for my story, and I had settled on 'Wizard' as part of it. My gaze was caught by the gilt letters on the three drawers of the cabinet. The first was A-G, the next drawer was labeled H-N, and on the last were the letters O-Z. And Oz it at once became."

It took almost no time for the book to become popular—by the time the first 10,000 copies were finished printing in January 1901, they quickly sold out. A little more than 50 years later, when The Wonderful Wizard of Oz entered the public domain, it had sold more than 3 million copies.

Today, 120 years later, the book has become an important part of American culture. The Library of Congress called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz "America's greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale;" the Broadway spin-off Wicked is one of the most successful musicals of all time, and the iconic 1939 film starring Judy Garland is widely considered one of the best films of all time—it's what all great movies based on books aspire to be.

With that in mind, we're taking a look at all 14 books in the Wizard of Oz series. After all, they're the stories that reminded us "there's no place like home."

Buy The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at Amazon

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

By L. Frank Baum

In the first book of the series, Baum introduces us to world that's full of fantasy (the Wicked Witch of the West, Glinda the Good Witch, the eponymous Wizard of Oz) and the everyday (farms, Kansas). This was especially smart to do at a time when there were few children's book that allowed for imagination instead of strictly teaching morals, with Alice in Wonderland being a prominent exception.

The story, as many know, starts with a young girl named Dorothy being swept up in a cyclone with her dog, Toto. The two are transported to the magical land of Oz, and soon set off on an adventure down the yellow brick road (along with Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion) to find the Wizard of Oz and return home.

Buy The Marvelous Land of Oz at Amazon

The Marvelous Land of Oz

By L. Frank Baum

L. Frank Baum had not expected The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to be the first book in a series, but in 1904, he succumbed to the wishes of his readers. Baum once jokingly complained that "The children won't let me stop telling tales of the land of Oz. I know lots of other stories, and hope to tell them sometime or another, but just now my loving tyrants won't let me."

To that end Baum created Tip, a poor orphan boy raised by the nasty Wicked Witch Mombi. Tip escapes from Mombi and finds himself in Oz, along with a few enchanted companions.

Buy Ozma of Oz at Amazon

Ozma of Oz

By L. Frank Baum

Dorothy is back in the third book of the series, though she's not in Oz, but Ev. She also has a new challenge: facing the wicked Nome King. And though she's met a few new friends in Ev, including Tik-Tok and Billina, she also calls upon some of her old friends from Oz for help.

Buy Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz at Amazon

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz

By L. Frank Baum

In the fourth book set in the land of Oz, Dorothy is accompanied by her kitten Eureka when she's swallowed by an earthquake, leading to her being captured by the Mangaboo people. Using only his wits and nine piglets, the Wizard of Oz must win a magic contest to save them. But when Eureka eats one of the Wizard's piglets—and is charged with murder for doing so—his task becomes much more difficult.

Related: 10 of the Best Books for Cat Lovers 

Buy The Road to Oz at Amazon

The Road to Oz

By L. Frank Baum

Toto rejoins Dorothy in the next book set in the land of Oz. The two are on their way to Princess Ozma's birthday party when they become lost, having tried to give directions to the Shaggy Man.This leads them on an adventure filled with new characters, including Polychrome, the Rainbow's daughter, and Button-Bright, a silly boy.

Buy The Emerald City of Oz at Amazon

The Emerald City of Oz

By L. Frank Baum

Dorothy's Aunt Em and Uncle Henry never really believed her fantastical stories about the land of Oz—until she brings them to see it for themselves. With their farm in danger, Dorothy thinks Oz is the perfect place for her family to resettle...but the Nome King has other plans.

Buy The Patchwork Girl of Oz at Amazon

The Patchwork Girl of Oz

By L. Frank Baum

This Oz book focuses not on Dorothy but on a young Munchkin named Ojo the Unlucky. His uncle has been turned into a statue, and it's up to Ojo to track down the magic ingredients that will bring him back to life. His companions include an arrogant Glass Cat, a four-legged Woozy, the resourceful Shaggy Man, and the Patchwork Girl herself—and he'll meet a few more familiar characters along the way.

first edition illusatration by w. w. denslow from the wonderful wizard of oz
  • An illustration by W.W. Denslow in the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

    Photo Credit: Public Domain
Buy Tik-Tok of Oz at Amazon

Tik-Tok of Oz

By L. Frank Baum

Tip's friend from the second Oz book returns in this story, as his brother Shaggy Man goes on a quest to find him. At the same time Glinda the Good Witch casts a fog to prevent Queen Ann of Oogaboo and her army from taking over Oz—and it's there that the Queen and Tik-Tok run into one another.

Buy The Scarecrow of Oz at Amazon

The Scarecrow of Oz

By L. Frank Baum

Said to be L. Frank Baum's personal favorite of the Oz books, this story follows Scarecrow as he helps Cap'n Bill and Trot overthrow the cruel King Krewl of Jinxland. 

According to William Stillman, co-author of The Wizardry of Oz: The Artistry and Magic of the 1939 MGM Classic, Baum based his Scarecrow character on his own memories. "As a young boy, he had nightmares about being chased by a scarecrow. It would almost catch him and then collapse in a heap."

Buy Rinkitink in Oz at Amazon

Rinkitink in Oz

By L. Frank Baum

This story is filled with new characters, including King Rinkitink of Gilgad, his talking goat, Bilbil, and the young Prince Inga. When the three find themselves in grave danger, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz hear of their troubles—and are determined to help.

Buy The Lost Princess of Oz at Amazon

The Lost Princess of Oz

By L. Frank Baum

There are three things missing in Emerald City: Glinda the Good's Great Book of Records, the Wizard of Oz's black bag of magic, and Princess Ozma herself. To find her, the Wizard, Dorothy, and a few companions set out to search the perilous unknown regions of Oz.

Buy The Tin Woodman of Oz at Amazon

The Tin Woodman of Oz

By L. Frank Baum

In this story, readers finally learn more about one of the original characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Tin Woodman. L. Frank Baum reveals how the Tin Woodman came to be and takes us on a journey as he and his good friend the Scarecrow go in search of his true love, a beautiful Munchkin girl named Nimmie Amee.

Buy The Magic of Oz at Amazon

The Magic of Oz

By L. Frank Baum

Though Princess Ozma wisely decreed that Glinda the Good Witch and the Wizard of Oz are the only two residents allowed to use magic, a boy named Kiki Aru defies her rule after he discovers a powerful magical word—Pyrzqxgl—that only he knows how to pronounce. Kiki turns himself into a hawk and explores lands beyond Oz, which leads to him meeting the villainous Ruggedo the Nome. 

Buy Glinda of Oz at Amazon

Glinda of Oz

By L. Frank Baum

This is the final story L. Frank Baum wrote about the land of Oz, though many authors have picked up where he left off. Dorothy and Princess Ozma set off on a mission to make peace between two warring tribes, only to find themselves taken captive. Now, it's up to Glinda the Good Witch to save them.

Published on 13 May 2020