by Joe Bongiorno
“I thought the Wizard of Oz was just a movie!?” is the line usually spoken when someone discovers that Oz is more than the 1939 MGM film. Indeed Oz extends much further back – to the dawn of the last century – precisely 1900 to be exact, when The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was first released to critical and commercial success. The series that developed from that first book – over fifty volumes of imaginative and endearing children’s fantasy literature – has many times over earned the moniker of 'classic.' It not only established one of the first authentic American fairy tales, but is the first fantasy series, and is still extant, spawning numerous sequels, prequels and re-imaginings based on the characters and setting of the original books. Baum also begat the first crossover, the first expanded universe and the first parallel universe! Before Burroughs, Howard and Lovecraft, before Tolkien and Lewis, before the business of fantasy-fiction began, there was Baum...
The timelines represented here serve as chronologies and compilations of nearly all of the Oz stories that have been written in the century that has passed since L. Frank Baum first wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The baseline, or measuring stick, for several of the timelines here is the original book series commonly known as the "Famous Forty," which comprise the books published from the years of 1900 to 1963. The Royal Timeline of Oz, however, considers all the books of the original historians as "canon," and thus has coined them the Sovereign Sixty, plus an additional fifteen Borderlands of Oz books, for the Supreme Seventy-Five (for more information on these, see the articles here and here).
The purpose of this timeline is manifold:
L. Frank Baum was the first one to begin the amusing fiction of referring to himself as “Royal Historian of Oz” and his stories as “histories” that had somehow been related to him. In imaginative fiction of this sort, it is an entertaining and amusing device that adds to a certain suspension of disbelief appropriate to the medium. Later writers who would employ this device in their works include J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Conan Doyle and H.P. Lovecraft. Therefore, in keeping with the spirit of these writers, we approach the following as if they were historical accounts of an actual world. Unlike the 1939 musical, Oz is not a dream, but a real place...
For those considering entering the literary world of Oz for the first time, do not let the enormous wealth of material deter you. Most of the stories you'll find can be read out of timeline order with barely negligible loss of comprehension, and the majority of writers went out of their way to re-cap previous important events and characters. And while it may be enlightening to follow the accounts in their proper sequence – and certainly one of the main functions of this timeline – it is after all only one way to read the Oz series. Many of the Oz books are stand-alone adventures that do not necessarily depend on previous stories to be enjoyed.
So, whether you’re aim is to read a few books or many, you'll find yourself embarking upon a memorable and exciting journey. For would-be future historians, as well as those of you who have read these books as children, young adults or older adults with childlike hearts, I hope that this chronology will serve as a roadmap and guide for you, whether you simply need a checklist for those stories you never knew existed or if you’ve decided to return to the mysterious mountains, rambling forests, and strange and unexplored realms of the Land of Oz...
On Minor and Major Continuity Issues
The primary purpose of The Royal Timeline of Oz is to present stories in what is believed to be the most probable chronological order, as to when each story might have occurred. The baseline is what is called canon. Canon is basically law. It establishes the baseline for that which is true and that which isn't. Canon in Oz was determined by the forty books published as the original series, known as the Famous Forty, but which in more recent years has been reexamined and found restrictive (it leaves out several works from Baum and the original series writers), and has been replaced on The Royal Timeline of Oz as the Sovereign Sixty.
As to issues of continuity, the footnotes on this site do attempt to note where incongruities have occurred, or where they have been retconned, and even how they might be retconned. The chroniclers of new Ozian lore are working hard to fill in the gaps while revealing new and old stories from the Land of Oz as they discover them.
As regards the minor continuity errors that creep in from time to time, it's helpful to keep in mind that Baum himself allowed incongruities to slip through as he was developing his mythology along the way, and many of these later made way for wondrous stories that explain the seeming incongruity. Even Earth’s own historians from ancient times to the present have made mistakes in their accounts. So too with the histories of Oz. What might seem like a contradiction may instead be a matter of not having all the facts. Perhaps, there is a tale that has not yet to be told, or that you haven’t yet read. Historians are discovering new things about Oz all the time. One need not be unduly dismayed by minor contradictions. Oz is a fairyland after all and strange things do and often occur. For a lengthier discussion of this topic, head over to Appendix A II.
Due to the fact that several authors took the mantle of storytelling following Reilly & Lee's cessation of the original series, there are several divergent strains of history that constitute major contradictions. These are distinguished from minor continuity errors by the fact that they cannot plausibly be reconciled with one another. This has led to the existence of different strands of Oz history. The possibility of parallel Oz universes is a concept made canonical in Hungry Tiger Press' Paradox in Oz, which reveals that several or many Ozziverses may co-exist together. The Mainline Timeline is the one in which I view as Timeline 'A,' and closest to the spirit and quality of writing established by Baum. It also represents those stories which are faithful to the Sovereign Sixty (formerly known as the Famous Forty: see the Appendices for more information on this).
In the Other Histories of Oz, Deadly Desert and Dark Side of Oz sections, one can discern the existence of timelines B, C, D and onwards. The Royal Timeline of Oz does not designate which parallel timelines constitute B, C, D or others. For some, March Laumer's series constitutes B, and Volkov's Magic Land series C. For others, it's reversed. Still, for other others, Chris Dulabone's Buckethead Enterprises of Oz and Tails of the Cowardly Lion and Friends publications constitute Timeline A (or B, etc.) Because this is such a subjective area, it is up to the reader to determine, if she wishes, what order they prefer, if any.
Of the many tales that contradict the Sovereign Sixty and which by intent or otherwise revise the Baumian view of Oz, as found specifically in the Deadly Desert and Dark Side of Oz sections, here again, readers are encouraged to make up their own minds on whether these constitute alternate Ozziverses or not. Finally, regarding those Oz stories that are but forays into sex and violence, I have noted them with a warning (mostly for parents) in the Dark Side of Oz section.
By no means are these chronologies free from error. Much educated guesswork goes into a project of this sort, and though every effort has been made towards accuracy, a few errors are bound to have crept in here or there. With so many stories in existence, it's not beyond the realm of reason for me to have overlooked something that another person discovers. This timeline is constantly in flux as new discoveries are made, new stories are added and errors are corrected. Very likely, even as you are reading this, I am in the process of altering the placement of something or adding a newly discovered tale. So, if it pleases you, drop me a line if you think you might have a better resolution to the placement of a story, if you've written a story, or even just to say 'Hi'. Contact me (Joe) at: Oz@timelineuniverse.net.
The Royal Timeline of Oz would be terribly remiss if it did not acknowledge the tremendous amount of help it received (and continues to receive) from the following individuals.
Special thanks goes first and foremost to the many old and modern day Royal Historians who's work has inspired me to put together this chronology...
Chris Dulabone and Tyler Jones, whose work on the Historically Accurate Chronological Chain (aka. the HACC), both together and individually, begat this idea, and without it I might not have discovered the wealth of material that existed or even where to start. You can find it here and at Tales of the Cowardly Lion & Friends. The same goes for Aaron Adelman's Historically Inaccurate/Rejected Chronological Chain (the HI/RCC), which paved the way towards placing Oz stories in a more organized fashion that reflected the parallel or alternate universes in which they belong to. That can be found here.
Nathan Mulac DeHoff, for a ton of research (see his Vovatia blogs), Marcus Mebes for his long friendship and worthy advice, Jeffrey Rester—fellow archivist and author—for his continued knowledge, generosity and encouragement, David Hulan and J. L. Bell for their great advice and terrific stories, Greg Gick for his generosity and fantastic adventure, Eric Shanower and David Maxine for all the work they've done for Oz and for allowing me to use their great artwork, OzStory Magazine and those incredible graphic novels, the late Mark E. Haas for his friendly correspondence and remarkable books, Dennis Anfuso for the good discussions and Oz adventures, Johanna Mendes and Valerie Elder for their aid in obtaining some of uncle March’s Oz books, Ruth Morris and Robin Olderman for their wisdom and support, Eric Gjovaag and Karyl Carlson for their patience and support, Charles Phipps for his kindness, Ken Shepherd for the detailed work on his Oz Chronology, Sean Duffley for his benevolence in allowing me to tackle his old position as Reviews Editor for the Baum Bugle, Peter E. Hanff for his enthusiasm and permission to use the Oz Map, Joyce and Allen John Konkel for help in tracking down copies of their mother Ruth’s wonderful manuscripts, Harry Mongold and the late Hugh Pendexter III for their thoughtful letters and fantastic tales, Marc Berezin for all the useful information, and Stephen Teller for his suggestions and help in tracking down many lost tales; Robert Hirsch for the incredibly beautiful and rare scans; Marie Richardson and Darrell Spradlyn for the Asimov scans and Emerald City Mirrors. Special thanks also go to Dee Michel for his love and support; Rich Handley for his help and advice, the Libsman family for their friendship and support; Kim Fulkerson for her Amazon support; Willy and Sheila for their understanding and computer (which I took hostage for a time), Jon Armstrong for his continued advice; Mom for her patience. I’d also like to thank everyone on Dave Hardenbrook’s Nonestica, as well as everyone on Regalia for their collective knowledge and contributions. Finally, I'd like to thank Paul Dana, my first published author, a wonderful writer, friend and human being!
Thank you all!
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