The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children's novel written by L. Frank Baum. Originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on May 17, 1900, it has since been reprinted numerous times, most often under the name The Wizard of Oz, which is the name of both the popular 1902 Broadway musical and the well-known 1939 film adaptation. The story chronicles the adventures of a young girl named Dorothy Gale in the Land of Oz, after being swept away from her Kansas farm home in a cyclone. The novel is one of the best-known stories in American popular culture and has been widely translated. Its initial success, and the success of the 1902 Broadway musical which Baum adapted from his original story, led to Baum's writing thirteen more Oz books. The original book has been in the public domain in the US since 1956. Baum dedicated the book "to my good friend & comrade, My Wife", Maud Gage Baum. In January 1901, George M. Hill Company, the publisher, completed printing the first edition, which probably totaled around 35,000 copies. Dorothy is a young orphaned girl raised by her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em in the bleak landscape of a Kansas farm. She has a little black dog Toto, who is her sole source of happiness on the dry, gray prairies. One day the farmhouse, with Dorothy and Toto inside, is caught up in a cyclone and deposited in a field in Munchkin Country, the eastern quadrant of the Land of Oz. The falling house kills the evil ruler of the Munchkins, the Wicked Witch of the East. The Good Witch of the North comes with the Munchkins to greet Dorothy and gives Dorothy the silver shoes (believed to have magical properties) that the Wicked Witch had been wearing when she was killed. In order to return to Kansas, the Good Witch of the North tells Dorothy that she will have to go to the "Emerald City" or "City of Emeralds" and ask the Wizard of Oz to help her. Before she leaves, the Good Witch of the North kisses her on the forehead, giving her magical protection from trouble. On her way down the road of yellow bricks, Dorothy frees the Scarecrow from the pole he is hanging on, restores the movements of the rusted Tin Woodman with an oil can, and encourages them and the Cowardly Lion to journey with her and Toto to the Emerald City. The Scarecrow wants to get a brain, the Tin Woodman a heart, and the Cowardly Lion, courage. All four of the travelers believe that the Wizard can solve their troubles. The party finds many adventures on their journey together, including overcoming obstacles such as narrow pieces of the yellow brick road, vicious Kalidahs, a river, and the Deadly Poppies. When the travelers arrive at the Emerald City, they are asked to wear green spectacles by the Guardian of the Gates as long as they remain in the city. The four are the first to ever successfully meet with the Wizard. When each traveler meets with the Wizard, he appears each time as someone or something different. To Dorothy, the Wizard is a giant head; the Scarecrow sees a beautiful woman; the Tin Woodman sees a terrible beast; the Cowardly Lion sees a ball of fire. The Wizard agrees to help each of them—but only if one of them kills the Wicked Witch of the West who rules over the western Winkie Country. The Guardian of the Gates warns them that no one has ever managed to harm the very cunning and cruel Wicked Witch. As the friends travel across the Winkie Country, the Wicked Witch sees them coming and attempts various ways of killing them: First, she sends her 40 great wolves to kill them. The Tin Woodman manages to kill them all. Then the Wicked Witch of the West sends her 40 crows to peck their eyes out. The Scarecrow manages to kill them by grabbing them and breaking their necks. Then the Wicked Witch summons a swarm of bees to sting them to death. Using the Scarecrow's extra straw, the others hide underneath it while the bees try to sting the Tin Woodman. Then the Wicked Witch of the West uses her Winkie soldiers to attack them.
For many of us, the adventures of Dorothy in Oz will forever be associated not with Judy Garland singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" but with W. W. Denslow's exceedingly odd line drawings for the original editions of Baum's Oz series. The Viennese artist Lisbeth Zwerger, however, goes a long way toward providing a new and refreshed set of images for the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the humbug wizard. These illustrations are often cockeyed, with occasional realistic details thrown in, like a crow with a corncob in its beak in the first portrait of the Scarecrow. The characters have a poignance and oddity that escaped the makers of the Oz movie.