Dr. Edward Wagenknecht, a professor of English at Boston University, was a major critic of and specialist on American literary authors. He was also the earliest academic champion of Baum’s wonderlands.
His seminal essay, Utopia Americana, was published in 1929 by the University of Washington Book Store. In it, he remarked, “Baum taught American children to look for the wonder in life around them, to realize that even smoke and machinery may be transformed into fairy lore if only we have sufficient energy and vision to penetrate to their significance and transform them to our use.”
Professor Wagenknecht contributed to The Baum Bugle as well as, on one occasion, the Club’s children’s publication, The Oz Gazette, in the form of a short childhood recollection from a time he saw Montgomery and Stone perform in The Wizard of Oz on the Broadway stage. Like The Wizard of Oz itself, this respected scholar of Oz marked his own 100th birthday during the book’s centennial year.
Despite his longstanding affection for Baum and Oz, he felt the need to warn his fellow enthusiasts not to let themselves become too involved in Ozian matters. He recognized early that, for some, Oz can become almost an addiction.