Dix, Dorothy (Elizabeth Meriweather Gilmer 1861-1951): Letter to W.W. Denslow

etter to Wizard of Oz artist and "Bermuda Island King"
etter to Wizard of Oz artist and "Bermuda Island King"

Dix, Dorothy (Elizabeth Meriweather Gilmer 1861-1951): Letter to W.W. Denslow

310.00

Dix, Dorothy (Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer) (1861–1951)

Letter to Wizard of Oz artist and "Bermuda Island King" W.W. Denslow

American newspaper writer. Typed letter signed. (“Dorothy Dix”). ½ page. 4to. New Orleans, 23 November 1903. On the letterhead of The Daily Picayune. To editorial cartoonist, Roycroft artist and illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, W[illiam] W[allace] Denslow (1856-1915).

Thank you very much for the lovely books which I enjoyed as much as if I had been a child myself, and which have made me enormously popular among my little acquaintences [sic] who come to look, and admire. I send you a little notice which I had the pleasure of making of them. I envy you, your new home. How fine it must be to be an Island King…

In 1896, Dix began publishing her often-quoted newspaper column – a forerunner of today’s advice columns – in New Orleans’ The Daily Picayune. Her writing earned her widespread popularity as well as the attention of newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst, who hired Dix to write for the New York Journal. At the Journal Dix covered some of the most notorious criminal trials of the early 20th century, and became the highest paid female journalist of her time. 

Undoubtedly, Dix and Denslow became acquainted through the latter’s work as a political caricaturist. Denslow had been a member of Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft arts community (where he designed his famous stylized seahorse) before finding success through a collaboration with American author L. Frank Baum, whose famous books he illustrated, including the 1899 work The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. A 1902 dispute over royalties from the musical production of the story, for which Denslow designed the sets, ended his creative partnership with Baum. Denslow did, however, go on to publish the popular Denslow’s Mother Goose (1901), Denslow’s Night Before Christmas (1902) and an 18-volume set of picture books in the following two years. It is perhaps for these books that Dix is thanking him and about which she wrote a ‘little notice.’ 

‘With his considerable profits from the plays and books, he bought a small island in Bermuda [Bluck’s Island], built a “castle” on it, and crowned himself King Denslow I of Denslow Island. But all fashions fade. Denslow began drinking heavily as his career went into a slump. He spent his last years working for a third-rate advertising agency in New York, drawing postcards, sheet music covers, advertising booklets, and an occasional magazine illustration. In 1915, he unexpectedly sold a cover to the popular humor weekly Life, went on a bender with the money, caught pneumonia and died. He was only 58 years old’, (Michael Patrick Hearn, ‘The Man Behind the Man Behind Oz: W. W. Denslow at 150’, AIGA website, 5 July 2006). 

Signed in pencil. Fold tears affect no text. Minor chipping and edge wear. In very good condition.

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