Welcome to my blog, featuring various pieces from my collection of Oz books, artwork and memorabilia!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Blown Away

Blown Away is an odd little book published in 1897, three years before The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The interesting thing about it is that the heroines, two young girls named Beatrice and Jessie, are transported by cyclone to a strange land, where they meet a variety of unusual creatures and people. It was written by the well-known English actor Richard Mansfield, who spent a good deal of his later life in America, until his death in Connecticut in 1907; I wonder if L. Frank Baum, being involved in theater much of his life, ever met Mansfield?

The two men were contemporaries, Baum born in 1856 and Mansfield in 1857. Mansfield began his career performing Gilbert & Sullivan roles with the D'oyly Carte Opera Company. He gained renown for his role as the title character(s) in Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and became a highly praised Shakespearean actor.

Unfortunately, the book is not particularly good and, like so many of the period, owes a large debt to the Alice books of Lewis Carroll. If anyone cares to attempt it, the text can be read online here. The cleverest part is the wonderful Art Nouveau binding which, when opened flat, forms a nearly symmetrical image showing both girls being swept up in the wind!


Bell-Snickle said...

Very cool. That cover is gorgeous! Shame that it sounds like the text didn't impress you as much.

Mike said...

Interesting. Is that Noah's Ark in the background of the front board?

Thanks for pointing this out! I think Rebecca Loncraine's Baum biography mentions the motif of travel by cyclone was in the air (so to speak) at the turn of the 20th century, but I don't have her text at hand right now.

Bill Campbell said...

Yes, that is Noah's Ark - one of the characters they meet is Mr Noah, of the wooden toy variety, and his animals perform for the girls.