Noel Langley

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Noel Langley
Born (1911-12-25)December 25, 1911
Durban, South Africa
Died November 4, 1980(1980-11-04) (aged 68)
Desert Hot Springs, California, America
Nationality American
Occupation novelist, playwright, screenwriter and director
Years active 1935-1980

Noel Langley (December 25, 1911 – November 4, 1980) was an American novelist, playwright, screenwriter and director. While under contract to MGM he was one of the screenwriters for The Wizard of Oz. He was chosen for the job on the basis of his children's story, The Tale of the Land of Green Ginger — a children's classic which has seldom been out of print since it was first published in 1937. However, his finished script for The Wizard of Oz was somewhat revised by Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf, revisions that Langley himself strongly objected to, but which appear in the finished film. Langley is on record as saying that he hated the completed product, an opinion not borne out by the general critical and public consensus. The Wizard of Oz has become one of the best-loved films ever made. He attempted to write a sequel based on The Marvelous Land of Oz using many of the concepts he had added to its predecessor, but this was never realized.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Born in Durban, South Africa, he was first an author and a successful Broadway playwright. Langley began writing for films in the 1930s. After World War II, Langley worked on many British films including the film noir They Made Me a Fugitive (1947), the remake of Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951), the Alastair Sim Scrooge (1951), The Pickwick Papers (1952), Ivanhoe (1952) and the Technicolor The Prisoner of Zenda (1952). (His contribution to Zenda, however, was minimal, since the 1952 film followed the script of the 1937 film version, on which Langley did not work, nearly word-for-word.)

In 1964, Langley made a series of tapes for New York radio station WBAI, reading "The Tale of the Land of Green Ginger" in its entirety. He subsequently edited it down to fit on an LP, which was issued by the listener-sponsored station and offered as a fund-raising premium. Langley continued to write novels and plays throughout his life. He also wrote short stories for the Saturday Evening Post and other magazines.

Langley died in 1980 in Desert Hot Springs, California, United States.

Partial bibliography[edit]

  • Cage Me a Peacock, Arthur Barker, 1935. A humorous historical novel set in Rome at the end of the Tarquin era.
  • The Land of Green Ginger, Arthur Barker, 1936. A book for children, concerning Abu Ali, the son of Aladdin.
  • There's a Porpoise Close Behind Us, Arthur Barker, 1936. A comic drama about English theatre life.
  • Three Plays, Arthur Barker, 1936. Farm of Three Echoes, For Ever, and Friendly Relations.
  • The Land of Green Ginger was rewritten for a new edition in 1966 and again in about 1975. In 1965, New York radio station WBAI recorded and broadcast Langley reading this story. A shortened version was issued on LP and offered as a fund-raising incentive.
  • So Unlike The English, William Morrow, 1937.
  • The Wizard of Oz, 1939, screenplay with Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf.
  • Hocus Pocus, Methuen, 1941. A humorous tale set in Hollywood.
  • The Music of the Heart, Arthur Barker, 1946. A novel with a circus background.
  • The Cabbage Patch, Arthur Barker, 1947. A comic drama about twenty-four hours in the life of Daisy, Lady Buckering.
  • The True and Pathetic History of Desbarollda, The Waltzing Mouse, Lindsay Drummond, 1947. A children's book, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone.
  • Nymph In Clover, Arthur Barker, 1948. The Lysistrata debacle retold.
  • There's a Horse in My Tree, with Hazel Pynegar, Arthur Barker, 1948. A humorous book.
  • Little Lambs Eat Ivy, Samuel French, 1950. A Light Comedy in Three Acts - produced 1948.
  • Edward, My Son; A Play in Three Acts, with Robert Morley, French, 1948.
  • Somebody's Rocking My Dreamboat, with Hazel Pynegar, Arthur Barker, 1949. A World War II novel about a group of women fleeing from England on a tramp steamer.
  • The Inconstant Moon, Arthur Barker, 1949. The story of Dante and Beatrice.
  • Tales of Mystery and Revenge, Arthur Barker, 1950.
  • Cuckoo in the Dell, with Hazel Pynegar, Arthur Barker, 1951. A tale of a young Norman knight and moral idealism.
  • The Rift in the Lute, also known as The Innocent at Large, Arthur Barker, 1952. An innocent boy finds a colourful, exotic world of "gay sinners" in ancient China.
  • Where Did Everybody Go?, Arthur Barker, 1960. A story of a playwright.
  • An Elegance of Rebels, a play in three acts, Arthur Barker, 1960.
  • The Loner, Triton Books, 1967.
  • Edgar Cayce on Reincarnation, Hawthorn Books, 1968.
  • A Dream of Dragonflies, Macmillan, 1971.
  • The Return, Kessinger Publishing, 2005. A collection of Saturday Evening Post short stories.
  • Desbarollda, the Waltzing Mouse, Durrant Publishing, 2006. A new edition.


  1. ^ Michael Gessel. "Langley's Screenplay for Wizard of Oz Sequel Discovered." The Baum Bugle 42:1 (Spring 1998), pp 14-17.

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