Articles/Biographies/Writers/Baum, Lyman Frank

Lyman Frank Baum was born on May 15, 1856 in Chittenango, New York. His parents, Benjamin and Cynthia, had 8 other children, but three of them died young. Baum disliked his first name and began going by Frank at an early age.

Baum's father was a very successful businessman that had made a fortune in Pennsylvania oil investments. As such, he was able to purchase a massive estate, which was named Rose Lawn. Frank was tutored there until the age of twelve, when he was sent to Peekskill Military Academy.

Frank absolutely hated the academy and endured two years before experiencing heart problems that allowed him to return home. In his childhood, Frank took up writing with a passion that inspired his father to purchase him a printing press. Frank worked with his brother to produce 17 issues of the "Rose Lawn Home Journal", an amateur newsletter. The newsletter was mildly successful and sold some issues over the years. In 1873, Frank began working on a second publication, "The Stamp Collector", and also published a directory of stamp dealers.

Frank also developed a certain passion for the performing arts and joined a local theater company in 1874. Unfortunately, he was duped into buying new costumes in exchange for lead roles that he never received. He was understandably upset by how the company manipulated him and left for some time to work in his brother-in-law's store in Syracuse as a clerk.

In 1876, Frank decided to join the popular hobby of poultry breeding. He decided to focus on breeding the Hamburg variety and developed a new journal, "The Poultry Record", in 1880. In 1886, he published his first book on the subject entitled "The Book of the Hamburgs, A Brief Treatise upon the Mating, Rearing, and Management of the Different Varieties of Hamburgs".

Through the 1880s, Frank continued to take roles in theater productions under the pseudonym Louis Baum. In 1880, he became the manager of several of his father's theaters and Frank began writing plays and scouting talent for them. One of his productions, "The Maid of Arran", was a tremendous success in the theater.

Around this time, Frank met a woman named Maud Gage, who was the daughter of a women's suffrage activist. He fell in love with her and they were married. The couple decided to move to Aberdeen, South Dakota, where he opened a store named "Baum's Bazaar". However, his generous nature forced him to close the store after giving out too much credit and going bankrupt.

After the failure of the store, Frank became the editor of the local newspaper, "The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer" and wrote a column entitled "Our Landlady" for it that would become famous. He decided to return to writing books and released the famous novel entitled "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", which described the plight of Dorothy, a Kansas girl that is transported to the mystical land of Oz after being sucked into a tornado.

The novel was a huge success and convinced Frank to write twelve novels about Oz, all of which became literary classics. In between, he also penned several other fiction novels that didn't do nearly as well. His final Oz book was published just after his death on May 6, 1919.

Frank is remembered as a great storyteller and his most popular story was immortalized in the movie "The Wizard of Oz", which starred Judy Garland. Even in modern times, his stories are very popular among children and adults.