[Palmer Cox]
L. Frank Baum on the brownies
[L. Frank Baum] 3. a beautiful fairy, or a brownie. This passage and the "winged" lady in the next chapter suggest that [L. Frank] Baum as yet had not yet entirely eliminated the "stereotyped" fairy from his fairy tales. Baum admits in "The Ryl" in Baum’s American Fairy Tales (1908) that both the winged fairy and the brownie do have a place in children’s books, though not necessarily in his. The Ryl is one of the "servants of nature," but when mistaken for a fairy, he snaps, "Do you see any wings growing out of my body? Do you see any golden hair flowing over my shoulders, or any gauzy cobweb skirts floating about my form in graceful folds?" That was the cliché for a fairy. "Really now," he says on being called a "brownie," "do I look like one of those impossible, crawly, mischievous elves? Is my body ten times bigger than it should be? Do my legs look like toothpicks and my eyes like saucers?" Baum, of course, is describing the brownie as created by the Canadian artist Palmer Cox (1840-1924). His "Brownie" books were best-sellers in their day, and the format of Baum’s Father Goose, His Book (1899) was in part based on them. (So popular were Cox’s drawings that Denslow imitated them with his "Inland Gnomes" in 1894 for The Inland Printer as calling cards and other decorations. See illustration on page Ivii.) That Baum had Cox in mind is apparent from the Ryl’s explanation: "Old nurses prefer to talk about those stupid fairies and hobgoblins, and never mention ryls to the children. And the people who write fairy tales and goose books and brownie books and such rubbish sit down at writing-tables and invent all sorts of impossible and unbelievable things" (pp. 176-77). Cox is the author of the "brownie books," and Baum (of course) is the author of "fairy tales and goose books."

Source Citation: The Annotated Wizard of Oz, Michael Patrick Hearn, ed. p. 166.
Updated: 2003/07/06