One of the great pleasures of pulling together today’s show on “Frank Baum’s Oz,” besides working with the terrific Evan Schwartz, was uncovering the different ways “The Wizard of Oz” has been interpreted and revived.
Aside from the most obvious – that 1939 Victor Fleming film starring Judy Garland – we drew from vividly voiced audio books (we used a Blackstone Audio edition read by Anna Fields), and the voluminous Norton’s "Annotated Wizard of Oz," with big color prints of the original illustrations and notes from the great children’s literature scholar Michael Patrick Hearn.
What we couldn't convey on radio were these gorgeous illustrations, which were crucial to the book's initial success. Most children's books in the late 1800's were illustrated with basic, black-and-white sketch drawings. Artist William Wallace Denslow entered into in a 50-50 partnership with L. Frank Baum to share the costs and the ownership of the "Wizard of Oz" bookplates, when no publisher would front the money. It became one of his most enduring works.
Here's one example, from the original 1900 edition:
This program aired on April 30, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.