Snow Business

I was aware from pretty early on that Ruth Plumly Thompson continued the Oz series after L. Frank Baum, and that illustrator John R. Neill would eventually write his own as well. I don’t think I’d heard of the fourth official Royal Historian of Oz, Jack Snow, until I found both of his books at a library in Virginia. A lifelong fan of Oz, he had also done some horror writing, and there seem to be some hints of this style with the monstrous shape-shifting Mimics in the first of his Oz books.

He also wrote a short story where Ozma was murdered by the ghost of her former self. Really, though, I largely think of his Oz work as being rather slow, perhaps due to the heavy action and humor from his two predecessors. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy his books, though. Snow used only Baum characters and only referred to situations in his books, and sometimes obviously tried to copy the first Royal Historian’s style. He also brought back some characters who were given short shrift in Thompson and Neill, like Cap’n Bill and the Shaggy Man, as well as a significant role for Toto.

While only the two Snow Oz books, The Magical Mimics in Oz and The Shaggy Man of Oz were published, it seems like every Oz author had some ideas on the back burner. The Autumn 1968 issue of The Baum Bugle included a fragment he’d written called “The Crystal People,” described as an excised chapter from Shaggy Man. Fred Meyer refers to it as the second of two chapters that were among Snow’s papers, the other being “Into the Cave.” That they were originally intended for Shaggy was confirmed by the book’s editor, who explained that the book originally had a subplot taking place within Oz concurrent with Shaggy’s adventures outside the land. The problem here is that “The Crystal People,” as published, has Shaggy along on the adventure in Oz. The chapter tells of Shaggy, Dorothy, Trot, Button-Bright, Ozma, and Cap’n Bill sailing in a boat called the Ozma (probably the same one the Cap’n is making during Magical Mimics) on the Gillikin River in search of its source, entering a cavern of live stalactites and stalagmites. Two of them, Prince Stalag and Princess Stalac, look forward to a time over 300 million years in the future when they’ll finish growing, at which point they plan to conquer Oz. According to Fred, “Into the Cave” had Dorothy join the others along with Father Goose, who for some reason was an actual goose.

It also mentions the Scarecrow being along on the excursion, although neither he nor Father Goose has any lines or actions in the published chapter. As I mentioned before, I can’t recall whether any books before that had mentioned the Gillikin River, which wasn’t on Baum’s map of Oz. According to James E. Haff and Dick Martin’s map, it’s the river Dorothy and Humpy cross with help from the Scooters in Lost King. Its source appears to be in the Gillikin Mountains, although the labeling makes it somewhat unclear which branch is which.

Snow was also said to have been working on a book called Over the Rainbow to Oz, and various sources have stated that it featured Polychrome and a boy from the United States, and that at one point they took shelter in the abandoned castle of the Wicked Witch of the West. It also might have included the Good Witch of the North, as per a possible hint in Who’s Who in Oz. Snow mentions the GWN as a guest at Ozma’s palace in Magical Mimics, presumably a contradiction of Thompson’s Giant Horse, although I’ve seen suggestions on how to reconcile them. While Fred mentions having read “Into the Cave,” it hasn’t been published, and I have no idea whether it’s still around. It appears that none of Over the Rainbow survived, assuming it had even been started, but if it turns up it would have to be the ultimate Oz discovery still remaining. Someone needs to check the Valley of Lost Things in Merryland, or consult the Wizard’s Teletable.

Speaking of lost Oz tales, there’s a mention in Unexplored Territory that Dick Martin left notes for a second Oz book, with no indication as to what it might have been about. I’ve written before about a manuscript Eloise Jarvis McGraw started that had a single chapter published in Oziana. It involved the Flittermouse from Merry Go Round getting lost on the way to the Emerald City and being captured by a collector in the Great Wilderness of Nnydd, then rescued by the Hungry Tiger.

It also contains a reference to Bzzzantium, apparently a city of bees. At the last OzCon International, David Maxine told about how Eloise had considered continuing this one instead of what became Rundelstone, but changed her mind. I don’t know how much of it was written, but it might have included Ruggedo.

This entry was posted in Characters, Dick Martin, Eloise Jarvis McGraw, Jack Snow, John R. Neill, L. Frank Baum, Maps, Oz, Oz Authors, Places, Ruth Plumly Thompson, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Snow Business

  1. Anthony Will says:

    I never knew about these Snow Fragments. very interesting

  2. I’ve been trying to track down “Into the Cave” for some time now, and the only source that I know has it is the Syracuse U Library. I made a formal request to go and see the collection of Fred Meyer, but was turned down because “the collection is currently unprocessed and not available for research.” I have to try again at some point and see if I can get in. Once I’ve made a copy, I’ll send it to the Bugle editor so they can reprint it for everyone to enjoy.

    • Nathan says:

      I think it would be interesting to try to expand those two chapters into an entire story, presumably about a search for the source of the Gillikin River.

      • Consider me “very onboard” with that idea! The only problem remains getting that story, and I’ve just contacted them again. I even offered my help in processing the collection, but they’re not interested in any help from those not affiliated with the university. This means that unless someone else comes forth with a copy, we have to wait for them to process the collection. And who knows how long that’s going to be. I understand that libraries across the country are underfunded and understaffed, but it’s been a long time since Fred died and donated the collection. I think it’s a shame that fans don’t have access to it yet.

      • Nathan says:

        I have to wonder why only one of the two chapters was published in the first place. The description makes it sound like not much happens in “Into the Cave,” but you’d think it would have been included for the sake of completeness.

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