The Wizard of Oz is best known as one of the most watched films of all time, or as one of its many re-incarnations, such as the hugely successful Broadway musical Wicked or the Soviet, The Wizard of the Emerald City. But fewer people nowadays may be aware of the original book by the American writer L. Frank Baum that inspired these stories about a young girl who travels through a magic land in the company of a talking scarecrow, a tin man and a fearful lion. While he was a controversial figure, it was L. Frank Baum’s ideas about social justice and rights for women which pervade not just The Wizard of Oz but also its sequels, and explain why this story in its many forms has inspired many minority groups, from the African American to the LGBT communities.
Joining Bridget Kendall is Michael Patrick Hearn, considered to be the world’s leading Oz scholar, and author of The Annotated Wizard of Oz; Dr Sally Roesch Wagner, who specialises in the feminist aspects of The Wizard of Oz including the influence of Frank Baum’s mother-in-law, the women’s rights campaigner, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and the Russian writer Olga Zilberbourg who has studied the very popular Soviet version of the story.
Produced by Anne Khazam for the BBC World Service.
[Image: Publicity still from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images]
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