Ruth Plumly Thompson 1939 “Oz” Book Donated to NCLC

Following the death in 1919 of L. Frank Baum, the author of the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Ruth Plumly Thompson was hired by Baum’s publisher to continue the Oz series.  Ms. Thompson of Philadelphia wrote one Oz book a year from 1921 to 1939 when Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz was published by Reilly & Lee.  The phrase “The Wizard of Oz” was added to coincide with the release of the movie, The Wizard of Oz, by MGM the same year.  The illustrator is John R. Neill, who illustrated many of Baum’s Oz books after Baum and the original illustrator of the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, W. W. Denslow, parted ways after a dispute over royalties. 

Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, by Ruth Plumly Thompson

Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz (Chicago: Reilly & Lee, 1939). By Ruth Plumly Thompson, illustrated by John R. Neill.

Neill wrote three Oz books after Thompson resigned from writing the series in 1939.  The story contains the original characters, Dorothy Gale, the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion and of course the Wizard of Oz.  Jellia Jam (“Jamb” in the original Baum) is the Wizard’s “pretty little serving maid” who does not appear in the movie version.  The Soldier with Green Whiskers and Nick Chopper join everyone for a dinner party at the Wizard’s home so the Wizard can show off his new inventions, two Ozoplanes named Ozpril and Oztober.  The Soldier, Tin Woodman, and Jellia board the Oztober and through the Soldier’s bad luck, take off through the roof on a long adventure.

–Terri J. Goldich

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