The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - Background

Background

Born on May 15, 1856, in a frame house in Chittenango, New York, Lyman Frank Baum was the seventh child of Cynthia Stanton and Benjamin Ward Baum, an affluent oil baron. Raised in Rose Lawn, the Baum country property on the outskirts of Syracuse, Baum had a sheltered upbringing. As a child, he was extremely bashful and was diagnosed with a deficient heart. Baum spent considerable time playing with his imaginary friends and reading books. When he was 15 years old, he and Harry, a younger brother, produced The Rose Lawn Home Journal. When he was 18 years old, Baum spent much time around local theaters and hoped to pursue acting. Though his father initially opposed his dream he later capitulated. Baum traveled through different states and worked at various jobs to support his acting career.

In 1882, Baum married Maud Gage, daughter of suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage. His mother-in-law believed that Baum was idealistic and wrote in a letter that he was "a perfect baby". However, she urged him to put to paper the many tales he had related to his sons for many years. Maud Gage, a practical woman, served as a foil to Baum. She was consistent and wary of their finances, complementing her husband, an imaginative dreamer.

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