Our Landlady

Our Landlady

by L. Frank Baum
     
 

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L. Frank Baum is internationally loved for his series of books about the wonderful Land of Oz. From January 1890 to February 1891 Baum wrote a column entitled "Our Landlady" that ran regularly in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer. In all, he wrote forty-eight installments, each treating with practiced naiveté the problems facing the brand-new state of South Dakota.

Overview

L. Frank Baum is internationally loved for his series of books about the wonderful Land of Oz. From January 1890 to February 1891 Baum wrote a column entitled "Our Landlady" that ran regularly in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer. In all, he wrote forty-eight installments, each treating with practiced naiveté the problems facing the brand-new state of South Dakota. Through his fictional landlady, Sairy Ann Bilkins, Baum commented on drought, railroads, suffrage, prairie populism, the Ghost Dance Movement, prohibition, and dozens of other matters. Together, the "Our Landlady" columns constitute a satirical history of South Dakota's troubled first year. Baum's genius as a fiction writer can be clearly seen in four of his recurring characters. Mrs. Bilkins runs for mayor, alternately feeds and starves her boarders, and keeps track of everybody else's business. She harbors a secret passion for one of her boarders, the cigar-smoking Colonel. She nags Tom, the clerk who habitually fails to pay his rent. She chides the Doctor about the flimflammery of American medicine. Thirteen of the columns were collected in a 1941 South Dakota Writers' Project pamphlet, but Nancy Tystad Koupal provides the first complete edition and the first to include adequate information about the time, place, slang, and circumstances necessary for bringing the characters back to life. Koupal, a long-time student of Baum, has written numerous articles on Baum for journals such as the Great Plains Quarterly. She is the director of the Research and Publishing Program of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Baum, best known for his writings about a place called Oz, here takes a humorous look at South Dakota life in 1890. The assorted tales of landlady Sairy Ann Bilkins were originally published as a column in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, and several were collected and printed as a single volume in 1941. This, however, is the first complete edition. It additionally includes period illustrations and annotations by scholar Nancy Tystad Koupal.
Great Plains Quarterly
"It is widely known that L. Frank Baum spent several years in South Dakota before moving to Chicago, where he wrote the Oz books that made him famous. . . . Koupal carefully lays out the complexities and ambiguities of Baum’s thinking by providing us with the full texts of Baum’s columns published weekly in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer between January 1890 and February 1891, and by adding her own commentary and a glossary to place these writings in context. Entitled ‘Our Landlady,’ the column described in a generally humorous vein the conversations and activities of four fictional characters—the landlady and three of her regular boarders—and a wide variety of prominent local residents of Aberdeen."—Great Plains Quarterly
Western Historical Quarterly
"Readers will be grateful to Koupal for this amusing and edifying supplement to our understanding of one of the giants of American popular culture."—Western Historical Quarterly
South Dakota History
"Baum’s humor is of the biting kind. . . . Readers of Our Landlady will find the beginnings of Baum’s wonderful world of humor as well as an informative look at life in a prairie state."—South Dakota History
Baum Bugle
"Koupal is an admirable editor. It’s hard to see how the work could be improved."—Baum Bugle

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803261563
Publisher:
University of Nebraska Press
Publication date:
05/28/1999
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
287
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.56(d)

Meet the Author


Nancy Tystad Koupal is a native of Mitchell, South Dakota, and serves as director of the Research and Publishing Program at the South Dakota State Historical Society.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
May 15, 1856
Date of Death:
May 6, 1919
Place of Birth:
Chittenango, New York
Place of Death:
Hollywood, California
Education:
Attended Peekskill Military Academy and Syracuse Classical School

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