Discover the Secrets of an Enchanted World

Annotating Oz

Gayelette, the Ruby Sorceress The Hidden History of Oz came to life over several years. It didn’t spring fully-formed from my forehead. The concept began when I discovered clues cleverly dropped by L. Frank Baum that told the story of Oz before the Wizard came …

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take this one step at a time.

Why annotate Oz?

Why Annotate Oz?

In 2010 I was involved with a project that required that I annotate the book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I gladly jumped on this project. I was in the development process for an Oz-based game. (It’s been put on hold while I work on the stories, but it may still see the light of day.) I spent ten weeks going through The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, line by line, writing notes to every detail that I thought would make the experience more understandable to a ten-year old reader.
The project shifted directions, a different creative vision unfolded, and we parted ways. I went my way with my writing.

While the project continued on, and can be found here, I was left with 60 pages of annotations and a head full of questions.

Why is Oz important?

Everyone knows The Wizard of Oz. It’s part of our culture. It was the quintessential American fairy tale. That’s why Baum wrote it. He wanted the fairy tale without all of the darkness and death that the Brothers Grimm brought to their storytelling. The problem with first book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, is that it is only part of the story. I decided to explore the history that Baum had created, but left to hide unwanted in the shadows.
The Hidden History of Oz is a true history to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Baum wrote 14 books in the Oz series. He didn’t want to write sequels – see, he had other stories he wanted to tell. He didn’t want to be doing the same story over and over again.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the most pure vision of Oz that Baum had. That is why The Hidden History of Oz stories are only prequels to that book. Baum’s other Oz stories may be canonical, but they are not associated with The Hidden History stories.

Unanswered questions in Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz uses a story-within-a-story to pass time and to fill in details. These stories are left to stand on their own, but they hint at a much greater depth to the world. Imagination has been required to fill in the blanks, until now.

Who is Glinda?

Glinda became a primary player in the larger story that encompasses the Hidden History of Oz. Two of the questions I had from my reading are below. (All citations are from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum)

  • Who was Gayelette?
  • What was the Ruby Palace?

In Baum’s novel, Glinda has red hair (not blonde, like in the Wicked stories). Glinda has learned the secret of staying young. She sits on a Ruby Throne. These are facts, as we will see below. But those facts don’t answer where Glinda came from. In order to reach those questions, we have to look a little bit deeper.


“There lived here then, away at the North, a beautiful princess, who was also a powerful sorceress … Her name was Gayelette, and she lived in a handsome palace built from great blocks of ruby.”
(Chapter 14, The Winged Monkeys, emphasis added)

The Soldier With Green Whiskers describes Glinda:

“Who is Glinda?” inquired the Scarecrow.

“The Witch of the South. She is the most powerful of all the Witches, and rules over the Quadlings. Besides, her castle stands on the edge of the desert, so she may know a way to cross it.”

“Glinda is a Good Witch, isn’t she?” asked the child.

“The Quadlings think she is good,” said the soldier, “and she is kind to everyone. I have heard that Glinda is a beautiful woman, who knows how to keep young in spite of the many years she has lived.”

(Chapter 18, Away to the South, emphasis added)


“When they were all quite presentable they followed the soldier girl into a big room where the Witch Glinda sat upon a throne of rubies.

She was both beautiful and young to their eyes. Her hair was a rich red in color and fell in flowing ringlets over her shoulders. Her dress was pure white but her eyes were blue”

(Chapter 23, Glinda the Good Witch Grants Dorothy’s Wish, emphasis added)


So Gayelette lives in the Ruby Palace, and Glinda sits on a throne of rubies? Coincidence? Not in the least. And Glinda is the most powerful of all the Witches, yet there is no mention of Gayelette. If they were contemporaries, they would be rivals, wouldn’t they? Perhaps not.

You see, according to the Hidden History, Glinda was the daughter of Gayelette. The Ruby Throne is currently all that is left of the Ruby Palace. And just how does Glinda stay young? The same way that her mother did, but that is a question for another time.

Explore the Hidden History of Oz for yourself, starting in Book One: The Witch Queens of Oz.

5 responses

  1. Gayelette is also identified as Glinda’s mother in Dennis Anfuso’s The Winged Monkeys of Oz. It’s also been suggested that she might be a younger version of the Good Witch of the North.


    April 30, 2012 at 3:38 AM

    • The magic of Oz stories is that so much is left unexplored. Being in the public domain means that many authors can explore this world.
      As I wrote, my explorations into the Hidden History intersect canon in only one place – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
      Thanks for reading, posting, and sharing more about the expanded universe of Oz books.


      April 30, 2012 at 3:55 AM

      • Interesting idea. Personally, I prefer the series as a whole to any one particular book, and Wizard isn’t my favorite anyway. I do find your speculations quite interesting, however.


        April 30, 2012 at 5:55 PM

      • These posts are the supporting framework to give greater clarity to my novel (in the middle stages of editing), The Witch Queens of Oz, which is the first of several planned novels to complete the series The Hidden History of Oz.
        While some Oz purists may see things differently, I am hoping to attract a wider audience to Oz and give them something to fit into the series. In many respects, my work is almost the forensics behind the stories we know from Baum. They WHY behind the What Happened.


        May 2, 2012 at 2:01 AM

  2. Karen Robinson

    Interesting! I’ve wondered about Gayelette for 60 years, as well as those early years of Oz. Twenty years ago I decided to answer my questions by writing a novel. I began it, but set it aside for many years and only took it up again recently. I also imagined that Glinda was Gayelette’s daughter, and that Gayelette became the Good Witch of the North, allowing herself to age along with Quelala. It seems like a logical conclusion.

    I’m very interested in your version, but I’m going to wait to read it until I see where mine leads me. It will be interesting to compare. I agree that Baum left us clues, though I’m not sure he consciously realized them himself. He seemed to be a seat-of-the-pants writer, and it almost feels like he really was a Royal Historian, catching at history and not always understanding it himself.


    January 19, 2019 at 1:23 PM

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