Baum was born in a small town in Chittenango, New York. He was a member of a large family. He started writing as a child. When his father bought his children a simple printing press, Baum and a younger brother wrote and printed a small local newspaper. As a young man, Baum wrote and staged plays. Sometimes he wrote songs for his plays and starred in them himself. He also tried many other careers. He was a
travelling salesman and a storekeeper for a time. He started a newspaper while he lived in a town in South Dakota. He married in 1882. He and his wife, Maud Gage Baum, raised four sons. Baum had a very good imagination. He liked creating stories for his young sons and their friends.