William Wallace Denslow
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Born: May 5, 1856 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: March 29, 1915 (aged 58) in New York City, New York, United States
Education: National Academy of Design, Cooper Union
Known for: Illustration
Notable work: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, collaborations with L. Frank Baum
William Wallace Denslow (May 5, 1856 - March 29, 1915), professionally as W.W. Denslow, was an American illustrator and caricaturist remembered for his work in collaboration with author L. Frank Baum, especially his illustrations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Denslow was an editorial cartoonist with a strong interest in politics, which has fueled political interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Denslow spent brief periods at the National Academy of Design and the Cooper Union in New York, but was largely self educated and self trained. In the 1880s, he traveled about the United States as an artist and newspaper reporter; he came to Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, and chose to stay. Denslow acquired his earliest reputation as a poster artist; he also designed books and bookplates, and was the first artist invited to work at the Roycroft Press.
Denslow may have met Baum at the Chicago Press Club, where both men were members. Besides The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Denslow also illustrated Baum's books By the Candelabra's Glare, Father Goose: His Book, and Dot and Tot of Merryland. Baum and Denslow held the copyrights to most of these works jointly.
After Denslow quarreled with Baum over royalty shares from the 1902 stage adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, for which Baum wrote the script and Denslow designed the sets and costumes, Baum determined not to work with him again. (As co-copyright-holder, Denslow demanded an equal share in royalties with Baum and composer Paul Tietjens.) The royalties from the print and stage versions of The Wizard of Oz were sufficient to allow Denslow to purchase Bluck's Island, Bermuda, and crown himself King Denslow I.
Denslow illustrated an edition of traditional nursery rhymes titled Denslow's Mother Goose (1901), along with Denslow's Night Before Christmas (1902) and the 18 volume Denslow's Picture Books series (1903 – 1904). He also used his copyright to the art of the Baum books to create newspaper comic strips featuring Father Goose and the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman during the first decade of the twentieth century. He also created the comic strip Billy Bounce, notable as one of the earliest comic strips in which the protagonist has some manner of super powers. Denslow also wrote and illustrated a children's book called The Pearl and the Pumpkin.
Denslow had three wives and three divorces in his lifetime. His first wife, Annie McCartney (née, Anna M. Lowe, 1856 - 1908) married him in 1882 and gave birth to his only child, a son, the following year. The couple were already separated, however, and Denslow never saw his son. They finally divorced in 1896, freeing her to marry the man she lived with for five months. That same day, February 20, 1896, Denslow married Anne Holden Denslow, the daughter of Martha Holden, writer. That marriage did not last long either. Anne filed for divorce in September 1903, alleging that he told her in June 1901 that he did not love her and henceforth declined to live with her. In less than a month she married a young artist, their friend, Lawrence Mazzanovich, and left with him for Paris. Denslow then married his third wife, Mrs. Frances G. Doolittle December 24. Frances left him in 1906 and they finally divorced in 1911. He rewrote his will in 1914 leaving his estate to a fourth woman.