1856 : L. Frank Baum Born, Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

When:
May 15, 2020 all-day
2020-05-15T00:00:00-04:00
2020-05-16T00:00:00-04:00

L.

L. Frank Baum reads while sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of his Macatawa summer home, nicknamed The Sign of the Goose.

 

L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was born on May 15, 1856. The Holland Sentinel has an excellent feature on Baum’s Michigan connection.

For his family and friends, he was always known as Frank.  As an actor and playwright, he was known as Louis F. Baum.  As a newspaper editor, he was known as  L. F. Baum. And a one of the most popular children’s book authors ever, he was known as L. Frank Baum.   But in the resort community of Macatawa, however, Baum was known by another name:  “The Goose Man.”

The Wizard of Oz rolled off the presses on May 17, 1900, but Baum actually had the top selling children’s book of the year one year earlier:

In 1899, Baum published “Father Goose: His Book.” The collection of children’s poems exploded in popularity and provided Baum with wealth and prestige for the first time in his life, his great-grandson, Bob Baum, recalled.

The author used the profits from his book to rent a large, multi-story Victorian summer home nestled on the southern end of the Macatawa peninsula on Lake Michigan.

The home, which he eventually purchased, came to be known as the Sign of the Goose, an ever-present reminder of the fame that came along with “Father Goose.”

Members of the MSU community can read the complete text of Father Goose right here.  Others may have to try interlibrary loan.

Here’s a link to Baum’s 1907 novel Tamawaca Folks: A Summer Comedy, lampooning the resort community.

Also see the Oz Club Facebook page for all kinds of photos & history.

Sources:

L. Frank Baum, The Goose Man of Macatawa , Absolute Michigan.

Children begged for more and Frank Baum delivered, with 13 sequels to “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. Martin Chalakoski, Vintage News, April 17, 2018

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