The Secret History of the Girl Detective (L. Frank) Baum had been tinkering with the idea of a mystery series for nearly five years, and in 1911, there was a false start with The Daring Twins, intended to be the first in an Oz-like series written under his own name. The sequel, Phoebe Daring, appeared the next year, and then the series was quietly discontinued; the Daring characters, tellingly, were wrapped up in their own financial anxieties, dismaying publishers and readers alike. As Edith Van Dyne, Baum embarked on a fresh effort, Mary Louise, naming his orphaned heroine after one of his sisters. He was likely drafting the story in 1915, when Green’s Violet Strange made her debut. But Baum’s publishers were wary: they declined the first version, judging the character of Mary Louise too unruly. Baum quickly rewrote Mary Louise and saw it published in 1916. Eventually, the new series would have ten books, half of them ghostwritten, and collectively they became known as “The Bluebird Books” for their powder-blue cloth bindings. The stories start with the acknowledgment that the shadow of World War I changed gender norms irrevocably. Baum deftly frames this in Mary Louise and the Liberty Girls: in the words of a grandfatherly character, “‘This war,’ remarked the old soldier, thoughtfully, ‘is bringing the women of all nations into marked prominence, for it is undeniable that their fervid patriotism outranks that of the men. But you are mere girls, and I marvel at your sagacity and devotion, heretofore unsuspected.’”
All Things Oz to participate in Museum Day Live The All Things Oz museum will be participating in this year’s Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live event,March 12. The museum, located in Chittenango, is in the heart of the historic downtown district and features artifacts and exhibits about Chittenango native, L. Frank Baum and his most famous work, “the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”. The museum has more than 10,000 pieces in its collection and has approximately 1,500 pieces on display at a time. The exhibits include items from the 1975 Broadway production of “The Wiz,” original artwork and collectibles from the OZ universe, the original costumes from the film “After The Wizard,” and two 1939 MGM Munchkin actor appearance costumes. There are also rare items, autographed photos, and every kind of OZ collectible imaginable, from table and chairs, to music boxes and animatronic table top décor. Free Museum Live day is being held nationwide Saturday, March 12. The All Things Oz Museum, 219 Genesee St, Chittenango, is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day. For more information, visit www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday for free tickets, All Things Oz Museum – Home or Facebook.com/allthingsoz.