The Library of Congress has declared The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to be “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale,” also naming it the first American fantasy for children and one of the most-read children’s books in the world. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has become an established part of multiple cultures, spreading from its early young American readership to becoming known throughout the world. It has been translated or adapted into well over fifty languages, at times being modified in local variations. Written by author L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow, it was originally published in Chicago on May 17, 1900.
Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz without any thought of a sequel. After reading the novel, thousands of children wrote letters to him, requesting that he craft another story about Oz. In 1904, he wrote and published the first sequel, The Marvelous Land of Oz, explaining that he grudgingly wrote the sequel to address popular demand.
Baum also wrote sequels in 1907, 1908, and 1909. In his 1911 The Emerald City of Oz, he wrote that he could not continue writing sequels because Ozland had lost contact with the rest of the world.
The children refused to accept this story, so Baum, in 1913 and every year until his death in May 1919, wrote an Oz book, ultimately writing 13 sequels.
The Chicago Tribune‘s Russell MacFall wrote that Baum explained the purpose of his novels in a note he penned to his sister, Mary Louise Brewster, in a copy of Mother Goose in Prose (1897), his first book. He wrote, “To please a child is a sweet and a lovely thing that warms one’s heart and brings its own reward.”
After Baum’s death in 1919, Baum’s publishers delegated the creation of more sequels to Ruth Plumly Thompson who wrote 21. An original Oz book was published every Christmas between 1913 and 1942.By 1956, five million copies of the Oz books had been published in the English language, while hundreds of thousands more had been published in eight foreign languages.