November 11, 2012

This is Ruth Plumly Thompson. She was chosen to continue L. Frank Baum’s Oz series after his death. I believe she wrote 18 Oz books in the 1920s and 1930s, and a very fine job she did. She carried on with great imagination, plots, characters, humor, and wordplay. She also loved adverbs. Adverbs positively preened in her presence. Not greatly respected in literary circles, adverbs were grateful beyond measure when Ruth sat down to write.

Here is the cover of my probably pretty valuable edition of Ruth’s 1922 Oz book, Kabumpo in Oz. And here are some happy adverbs performing in some of the story’s sentences:

1…said the Elegant Elephant shortly.

2…he said gruffly.

3…mumbled Pompador, looking up at a division sign curiously.

4…rapped sharply on the marble stone with his trunk.

5…as Kabumpo blinked angrily another red hot shower spattered into his ear.

6 & 7. So, slowly and painfully, Pompa counted…

I wish I could travel back in time and ask Ruth why she liked adverbs so much. I can even imagine my report of the interview. It would be written like this:

‘Why do you like adverbs so much, Ruth?’ I asked.

“What is my middle name?’ she Plumly replied.


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this reflection on RPT’s love of adverbs. I have read her Oz books to my young sons, and I always noticed the abundance of adverbs in Ruth’s writing. I have made it a point to emphasize those descriptors when I read the books to my boys. It’s nice to know there are others out there who appreciate this stylistic quirk!

  2. Thanks, Brian. I heart Ruth so much I’ve invented a character named Plumly to narrate and star in several stories-in-progress.

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