Keeping the Palace Running


As egalitarian as Ozma and her court might try to be, it is a sad fact that the palace staff is largely ignored, with the occasional exception of Ozma’s personal maid Jellia Jamb. The most complete count of the staff appears in Ruth Plumly Thompson’s The Lost King of Oz, which refers to “forty-nine courtiers, thirty-nine footmen, thirty-seven handmen, twenty-six serving maids, ten cooks and a flock of pages.” The very next book, Hungry Tiger, mentions sixty-nine footmen working at Betsy Bobbin’s birthday party, so this number might vary a bit. Also, when Glinda attends Ozma’s party in Road, fifty servants wait upon her.

Few of the palace servants are ever named in the Famous Forty, although Wishing Horse does refer to two kitchen boys named Kapo and Iva. The Royal Gardener is named Lucion in a story fragment that might or might not have been written by L. Frank Baum. Other members of the palace staff are never given names but at least have official titles, like the Chief Steward who argues with Jim the Cab-Horse in Dorothy and the Wizard and the High Chamberlain who announces the guests in Road.

One apocryphal book that gives us a good look at the inner workings of the palace is Bill Campbell and Irwin Terry’s Masquerade. Here, the Royal Cook is named Nonperril, and his assistants are Whisk, Beater, and Strainer. We also meet the staff of the laundry room: the Laundress with a scrub brush and a flatiron for hands, Washer with his washboard belly, and Ringer with his clothes-wringer body.

I have to wonder if the three of them were born that way or had body parts replaced in the manner of the Tin Woodman. There’s also a Palace Washer Woman in Gilbert Sprague’s Nome King’s Shadow, although there’s no indication that this one has unusual hands. She does, however, get together with the Royal Chef.

As for the cook himself, Hugh Pendexter’s Wooglet names his Stovely, and has Ozma knight him for his role in defending the palace from pirates. In Marie Richardson’s short story “Ghosts in Oz,” the palace cook is female and everyone just calls her “Cook.” I also remember an unfinished story by Allison McBain that named the cook Gar Banzo. It’s interesting how many people have their own takes on a character who’s only mentioned in the main series itself.

This entry was posted in Bill Campbell and Irwin Terry, Characters, L. Frank Baum, Oz, Oz Authors, Ruth Plumly Thompson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Keeping the Palace Running

  1. Darrell says:

    It always seems as if Jellia has her hands full…when she’s not vacationing with Ozma.
    I find the Washer people kind of disturbing….I mean if they were born that way, what choice did they have but to take up those professions.
    It really seems to strip away freewill, even if it seems whimsical and fun at first glance.
    Though maybe one should envy those permanent washboard abs!

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