Creator / L. Frank Baum

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Picture missing the ball and chain attached to silver shoes.
"When I was young I longed to write a great novel that should win me fame. Now that I am getting old my first book is written to amuse children. For aside from my evident inability to do anything "great," I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-the-wisp which, when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one's heart and brings its own reward."

Lyman (long for "L.") Frank Baum (May 15, 1856 May 6, 1919) was an American author, best known for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz—a work so popular that, in fact, he was chained to the series and wrote Oz book after Oz book while longing to write anything else. Which helps explain what a Continuity Snarl the Oz books are. Before being utterly trapped by Oz, he wrote a number of other works, such as The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus.

Works by L. Frank Baum with their own trope pages include:

Other works by L. Frank Baum provide examples of:

  • Author Appeal: Magic (he had a strong interest in Theosophy), strong and sensible female characters in positions of power (his wife and mother in law were suffragettes and proto-feminists).
  • Cameo Prop: Baum died before MGM's version of The Wizard of Oz was filmed, but, in a remarkable coincidence, his coat played a role in the movie. The studio wardrobe department had trouble getting just the right look for Frank Morgan's "Professor Marvel". Finally, they went to a nearby thrift shop and bought an old, shabby frock coat for him to wear. While on the set, Morgan turned out the pocket of the coat, and noticed a name tag of the previous owner: L. Frank Baum. (This was later confirmed by Baum's widow and the tailor that made the coat.) Amusingly, when Margaret Hamilton first heard about it, she initially refused to believe it, claiming it to be nothing more than an MGM-concocted rumor to drum up publicity for the movie.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land: A lot of his fictional countries, but especially Mo in The Magical Monarch of Mo. For point of reference, this is a place where the treatment for sore throat is to remove a person's neck, turn it inside out, put it out to cure, turn it right-side-in again, and put the person's neck back. You can also get out of a deep pit by pushing the side so hard it flips the pit upside-down so you're at the top, not the bottom.
  • Creator Backlash: While he didn't exactly hate the book that made him famous, he was disappointed that none of his other literary attempts were anywhere near as successful, forcing him to continue writing Oz sequels for the money. He tried several times to end the series (for instance, by having Oz be permanently cut off from communication the outside world), but the public would have none of it.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: He wrote the Oz books partly because he thought traditional Fairy Tales were too scary (and definitely had a point there).note  But when your first book has a character who was enchanted to hack himself to pieces with an axe, becoming a Steampunk Cyborg; the second book has a protagonist forced to live her life as the wrong gender; and the third book has a vain princess and her hall of interchangeable heads, then you kinda missed the point about not loading your work with Nightmare Fuel.
  • Public-Domain Character: Santa Claus.
    • The Oz books are now public domain as well, at least those published before 1923, which includes all of Baum's work. Certain aspects from later books and adaptations are still copyrighted, most famously the 1939 film's Ruby Slippers (they're silver in the original).
  • Santa Claus: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is a partial Trope Codifier for some of our modern Santa mythos.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: The Oz books in particular are loaded with them.
  • Weird Weather: The Magical Monarch of Mo is about a Cloudcuckooland where it rains lemonade and snows popcorn, "and the lightning in the sky resembles the most beautiful fireworks; and the thunder is usually a chorus from the opera of Tannhauser." The land, rain, and snow all return in The Scarecrow of Oz.

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