The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow, originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on May 17, 1900. The book is one of the best-known stories in American literature and has been widely translated. The Library of Congress has declared it "America's greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale."
The story chronicles the adventures of a young farm girl named Dorothy in the magical Land of Oz, after she and her pet dog Toto are swept away from their Kansas home by a cyclone.
Baum's son, Harry Neal, told the Chicago Tribune in 1944 that Baum told his children "whimsical stories before they became material for his books." Harry called his father the "swellest man I knew," a man who was able to give a decent reason as to why black birds cooked in a pie could afterwards get out and sing.
Book's publisher, George M. Hill, predicted a sale of about 250,000 copies. In spite of this favorable conjecture, Hill did not initially predict that the book would be phenomenally successful. He agreed to publish the book only when the manager of the Chicago Grand Opera House, Fred R. Hamlin, committed to making it into a musical stage play to publicize the novel. The play The Wizard of Oz debuted on June 16, 1902. It was revised to suit adult preferences and was crafted as a "musical extravaganza," with the costumes modeled after Denslow's drawings.
By 1938, more than one million copies of the book had been printed. By 1956, the sales of it had grown to three million copies in print.
Local legend has it that Oz, also known as The Emerald City, was inspired by a prominent castle-like building in the community of Castle Park near Holland, Michigan, where Baum lived during the summer. The yellow brick road was derived from a road at that time paved by yellow bricks, located in Peekskill, New York, where Baum attended the Peekskill Military Academy. Baum scholars often refer to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (the "White City") as an inspiration for the Emerald City. Other legends suggest that the inspiration came from the Hotel Del Coronado near San Diego, California.
Some have suggested that Baum may have been inspired by Australia, a relatively new country at the time of the book's original publication. Australia is often colloquially spelled or referred to as "Oz". Furthermore, in Ozma of Oz (1907), Dorothy gets back to Oz as the result of a storm at sea while she and Uncle Henry are traveling by ship to Australia. Like Australia, Oz is an island continent somewhere to the west of California with inhabited regions bordering on a great desert. One might imagine that Baum intended Oz to be Australia, or perhaps a magical land in the center of the great Australian desert.