L. Frank Baum
Author L. Frank Baum created one of the most enduring fantasies of the 20th century, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), which spawned a slew of additional novels, as well as a cottage industry of motion picture and television adaptations, including "The Wizard of Oz" (1939), which became something of a childhood rite of passage that eventually surpassed its source in popularity and recognition. Baum's work originated from his desire to supplant the frightening, often moralistic tone of European fairy tales with a more pleasing and imaginative brand of children's literature, which resulted in Oz and its 16 sequels, as well as dozens of other young reader books, many written under a variety of pen names. Baum frequently attempted to bring his books to a wide audience through stage and silent film adaptations, though none could encapsulate the grand scope and gentle magic of his written work. Ironically, it was the 1939 film version that ultimately kept his books relevant for generations of readers, preserving Baum's status as one of America's most popular children's authors.