Signed in as:
Signed in as:
“Write down those stories you tell your sons!” Matilda Joslyn Gage instructed her son-in-law, L. Frank
Baum. Two years after her death, Baum published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,
the first in his Oz series.
Beyond telling her son-in-law to publish his stories, Matilda’s influence permeates the Oz books.
Wandering through the pages of the fourteen Oz books, you visit the world Gage spent her life striving
to create, where women are equal to men; everyone has what they need and gives what they can;
morality exists outside the walls of a church; diversity is celebrated, and war is not allowed. Love rules,
with respect and justice for all providing the conditions for peace.
It is the spiritual and political female leadership of Oz that runs the country, keeping the peace and
seeing to the needs of the people. Ozma, the rightful ruler of Oz, emerges at the end of the second
book, The Marvelous Land of Oz, when the hero, Tip, discovers that he’s a female trapped in a male
body. Bewitched by an evil witch, she is actually Ozma and must undergo a gender reassignment
to be her authentic self.
Assured that his companions, the Tin Woodman, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion
will love him every bit as much if he is a girl and affirmed that girls may be even better than boys,
Tip emerges as Ozma with her double-gender vision to lead Oz along with Glinda
the Good Witch and Dorothy – a female triumvirate.
Matilda began her magnum opus, Woman, Church and State, with a chapter on the “matriarchate,” an
egalitarian, Indigenous value system resting on creative female authority, which Baum mirrors in Oz. The
connections between Baum and his mother-in-law range from the witches– who come straight out of
the chapter on witches in Woman, Church and State – to the women’s revolution in the The Marvelous
Land of Oz which results in the men of Oz appreciating the difficult nature of housework.
You’ll find Gage’s full influence on the Oz books documented in The Wonderful Mother of Oz,
available through our online store and in our gift shop.
Married in the front parlor (now the Oz Parlor) in 1882, Frank and Maud Baum came to live with Matilda
at the Gage Home during the summer of 1887. A gifted amateur photographer, Frank photographed the
Gage Home in photos that guided the rehabilitation of the Gage Home, completed in 2010 with the
grand opening of the home as the Gage Social Justice Dialogue Center. Enlargements of his photograph
of the front parlor and of Matilda painting are on view in this room.
The Gage Home/Center is the only home where Baum lived that is open to the public.