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. This helps explain what a Continuity Snarl the Oz books are, as well as the fact that he often juggled various side projects while rushing out yearly Oz books, such as theater productions (arguably his true passion over writing) and later, silent films for his short-lived film studio. Baum also wrote many novels for adult audiences under various pen names.
He wrote the second Oz book to capitalize on the success of the stage version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and although he didn't plan to turn it into a series he was talked into writing four more books by the publisher. After trying to end the series at six books and move onto a new fantasy adventure series starring his characters Trot and Cap'n Bill, some bad theater investments and poor book sales necessitated his return to the Oz series after only a three year absence, which he would be stuck writing for the rest of his life.
Before being utterly trapped by Oz, he wrote a number of other works, such as his first best selling book Mother Goose in Prose, and The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus.
Works by L. Frank Baum with their own trope pages include:
- The first 14 books of the Land of Oz series:
- The Sea Fairies
- Queen Zixi of Ix
- The Master Key
- The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus
Other works by L. Frank Baum provide examples of:
- Alliterative Title: The Magical Monarch of Mo.
- 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.
- Direct Line to the Author: Was fond of using this trope in the introductions to the Oz books, calling himself the Royal Historian of Oz; and since they're in a Shared Universe with his other fantasy books one could presume this trope applied with all of his books, whether stated or not. For instance, after Oz was shut off from the rest of the world, he was able to find a way to communicate with Oz via telegraph in order to get more stories.
- Meaningful Name: The Sea Fairies has the mermaid queen, named "Aquareine", "Aqua", invokes the water in which a mermaid lives, while "reine" is similar to "Siren", also used as a word for mermaids.
- 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.
- Baum even exaggerates this trope, because the ''Land of Oz'' series is known for its Surprise Creepy, with a fair amount of Family-Unfriendly Violence and Nightmare Fuel for a little kid's series. Many readers have also noticed some oddities about how Oz is presented (often due to Values Dissonance), such as how no one but the two regents are allowed to use magic or how the former Wizard of Oz is treated as a "good man" despite all his previous misdeeds. It's essentially a dictatorship, but it's a ''benevolent'' one, so few citizens are unsatisfied. Still, these Unfortunate Implications are enough to make writers brainstorm. So the ''Land of Oz'' books is reinterpreted as more political than intended. As a result, Oz and its characters routinely get referenced in dark, political manners and many adaptations politicize the setting. Glinda the Good Witch and the Wizard of Oz are especially prone to getting reinterpreted as more amoral than intended. The Emerald City will also be turned into a Stepford Suburbia that looks pretty and shiny but hides darker secrets underneath. To resume, L. Frank Baum unintendedly created a whole literary genre, that is a Sub-trope to Fractured Fairytale called Dystopian Oz.
- Public Domain Character: Santa Claus.
- Santa Claus: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is a partial Trope Codifier for some of our modern Santa mythos.
- Shared Universe: It may not have started this way, but by The Road to Oz and it's Massive Multiplayer Crossover ending it was canon that all of Baum's fantasy novels took place in the same universe. Later on when maps of Oz and the continent it resides on were created it was revealed that all of Baum's fantasies take place on the same continent. This later allowed Baum to rescue Trot and Cap'n Bill after their series was cancelled by having them end up in Oz.
- 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 Tannhäuser." The land, rain, and snow all return in The Scarecrow of Oz.