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

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Early British Wizards

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was first published in 1900 with great success, and around 1906 the first commercial British edition of the book appeared. Although this version was published by Hodder & Stoughton in England, it is essentially the same as the American Bobbs-Merrill edition from the same period, featuring W. W. Denslow’s two-color text illustrations and 16 color plates. 

But the cover colors are different, making a lighter and brighter book, which seems more appealing for a children’s story. Instead of deep olive green cloth stamped in black and orange, the British edition is bound in a lighter green textured cloth, and stamped in peach, black and dark green. The size of the book is also just a touch larger.

The title page shows both the Bobbs-Merrill imprint, which is part of the hand-lettered artwork, and an additional Hodder & Stoughton identification. Relatively few copies have turned up over the years, making me wonder how much of a success this book was with the Brits!

Around 1926 another edition was published, this time by Hutchinson & Co. As before, the book has the general appearance of the contemporary Bobbs-Merrill version; but it’s a much smaller book.

It’s almost a miniature, being only 5” x 7”, with far fewer of Denslow’s illustrations and no color plates. Perhaps this was done as a tie-in to the Larry Semon film version of the story, which was released in 1925. Semon was quite popular in Europe, particularly in France.

 The rather plain title page is printed in two colors, and lists Hutchinson & Co. as publishers. Hutchinson would go on to print later editions of the book, including the more elaborate version published to tie in with the release of the MGM film in England.