Maps of Oz have been produced almost since the beginning of Oz literature. Along the way they have embodied one of the many inconsistencies that seem almost characteristic of Oz.
Any map of the subject must be rooted in the description of the Land of Oz given by L. Frank Baum in the first Oz book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which details the four separate countries of Oz in the four cardinal directions, with their names and characteristic colors. (The term "Gillikin" is not introduced until the opening chapter of the second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz.) The earliest known map of Oz is one that Baum had made as a magic lantern slide for his Fairylogue and Radio-Plays in 1908. It shows the four countries with their proper colors, located in their proper places — Gillikins up, Quadlings down, Munchkins to the East on the right, Winkies to the West on the left.
The book actually features two maps:
- A map labelled "Map of the Marvelous Land of Oz Drawn by Prof. Wogglebug T. E." produced on the book's front endpapers. This map reverses two of the four countries, showing the Munchkin Country on the left (conventionally, the west), and the Winkie Country on the right (conventionally, the east). As originally printed in 1914, this map’s compass rose was reversed, with east on the left and west on the right. Thus, although the positions of the Munchkin and Winkie Countries appeared backwards, according to the directional indicator they were not.
- A second, larger-view map labelled "Map of the Countries Near to the Land of Oz" on the book's back endpapers. This map shows Oz in relation to Baum's other fantasy realms, Ix, Ev, Merryland, and others. This map also has east and west reversed from their conventional positions, both on the compass rose and with respect to the Munchkin and Winkie Countries.
This reversal of direction continues in a later Oz book. In The Lost Princess of Oz, Chapter 4, Baum writes that the eastern portion of the Winkie Country "lies nearest to the Emerald City," which places the Winkie Country west of the capital; yet the accompanying map shows it to the right of the Emerald City. Confusingly, in Chapter 14, the Frogman tells a Winkie woman that the land of the Yips is "on a high mountain at the southeast of your country." This would seem to be in keeping with the map in that volume, which shows the Yips in the lower right corner (conventionally the southeast, although this map lacks a compass rose). By the orientation described in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Winkie Country would have no southeast corner.
How could this confusion of East and West have occurred? There are several theories. Baum had already dreamed up a flag of Oz; on a flag, the up and down directions are generally consistent, but the right and left sides reverse depending on how the flag is viewed. A flag on a flagpole is just as visible from its reverse side as its obverse. Alternatively, as Michael Patrick Hearn suggests in The Annotated Wizard of Oz [p. 41], Baum may have hastily referred to the magic-lantern slide he had made for the Fairylogue and Radio-Plays, and viewed the slide from the wrong side, which would similarly reverse the right and left sides of the image. Finally, Oz fan and scholar David Maxine argues that Baum intended the directions of Oz to be reversed from those of the normal world, perhaps indicating that in Oz (and other fairy countries) a person facing north would see the sun rise on their left and set on their right.
The result of this confusion is that post-1920 maps of Oz often place the Munchkin Country in the West and the Winkie Country in the East, though this violates the clear details of the first book.
In The Scarecrow of Oz, Chapter 9, there is a reference to "the map of Oz," showing that the people of the land had a cartography of their own. Other references to maps of Oz occur in Rinkitink in Oz, Chapter 1, The Tin Woodman of Oz, Chapter 3, and Glinda of Oz, Chapter 1.
In the 1920s and '30s, Baum's successor Ruth Plumly Thompson wondered why publisher Reilly & Lee did not create an updated map of Oz, one that showed the many fantasy locations in her books. That map had to wait a long time: James E. Haff and Dick Martin created such an updated map in 1960, featuring locales not only from Thompson's books but from those of later "Royal Historians" too. This map corrects the positioning of the Munchkin and Winkie Countries, however doing so creates its own inconsistencies with earlier maps (for instance, the Blue Forest and Ojo's home went from being in southern Munchkin Country near the border with Quadling Country to northern Munchkin Country bordering Gillikin Country, contradicting the books). Haff and Martin's accompanying map of "The Magical Countries surrounding Oz" shows the entire region of Nonestica and the Nonestic Ocean; again the correcting of the directions violates a detail from Ozma of Oz in which Ozma's party crosses the Deadly Desert from Ev into Munchkin Country, now on the opposite side of the continent in the updated map (although this particular error dates back to the map from Tik-Tok of Oz too). Both maps were included in the Del Rey and Books of Wonder reprints of the Oz books.
- L. Frank Baum. The Annotated Wizard of Oz. Michael Patrick Hearn, ed. New York, W. W. Norton, 2000.
- Michael O. Riley. Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum. Lawrence, KS, University Press of Kansas, 1997.
- Katharine M. Rogers. L. Frank Baum, Creator of Oz: A Biography. New York, St. Martin's Press, 2002.
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