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L. Frank Baum wrote Rinkitink in Oz around 1905, sometime between The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz, but we know that as originally written it had nothing to do with Oz. But Baum couldn't get it published as it was, so around 1915 he wrote a new ending, with Dorothy appearing late in the story (and seemingly from nowhere) to solve everyone's problems; then the non-Oz protagonists of the novel get a tour of Oz and meet the characters from the previous Oz books. The result was published as Rinkitink in Oz in 1916.

Do we know whether Baum ever finished the original novel? If so, is the original ending still around somewhere? If it's lost, do we know anything about what happened in it?

  • Note: this blog post that claims that a manuscript was found is an April Fools’ prank. – MJD Apr 17 '17 at 16:06
  • “The newest [2016] issue of Oziana, the International Wizard of Oz Club’s literary magazine, presents a variety of alternate endings for L. Frank Baum’s 10th Oz novel, Rinkitink in Oz. In recognition of the book’s 100th anniversary, the International Wizard of Oz Club held a contest to find the most Baumian ending to replace the finale that Baum came up with to turn his unpublished manuscript King Rinkitink into an Oz book. This issue of Oziana collects those contest entries, including the winning one.” ozclub.org/newsroom/oziana-2016-now-available – MJD Apr 17 '17 at 16:08
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This page from the comic book database lists the original 1905 King Rinkitink manuscript as an "unpublished lost manuscript", so if that's true we could have only second-hand information about its ending (if it had even been completed). And this article says:

That Rinkitink was written around 1905 has been known since 1961, when Russell P. MacFall reported it in To Please a Child (p. 198). The book is mentioned as King Rinkitink in a contract of 28 June 1906 between Baum and his publisher (in fairness to Mrs. Moore, I should mention that this contract has not yet been published).

So I think the implication from these is that the only reason we know Rinkitink of Oz was based on the earlier 1905 King Rinkitink is that the title was mentioned in a contract. Most likely the contract would not have given any sort of detailed plot summary, though we can't be sure without being able to read the contract. I suppose it's also possible that even if the title is only known from the contract, Baum might have mentioned something about it in a letter, if you want to be sure there's nothing else beyond the contract you'd have to check Russell MacFall's book.

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In 2015, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the publication of Rinkitink in Oz, the International Wizard of Oz Club held a contest in which entrants were asked to supply their own ideas about what the original ending might have been.

The original contest announcement begins: “What happened to King Rinkitink? Attention Storytellers! L. Frank Baum wrote King Rinkitink some time before it was published as the tenth Oz book. How would he have ended it if Dorothy and the Wizard hadn't shown up to save the day?”

The fifteen submissions were collected and published in Oziana 46 in December 2016. The winning entry, The Adventures of King Rinkitink, was submitted by Andrew Heller.

If anything was known about the original ending of King Rinkitink, someone in the International Wizard of Oz club would know about it. Evidently, as of a few months ago, nobody does.

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