Happy birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder! Did you know that today is the 150th anniversary of her birth? I am a big fan of her books and the television show they inspired.
For much of my life the stories of the Ingalls family have inspired me. Their courage, hard work and faith in spite of often overwhelming odds remind me that my life is pretty darn easy by comparison. I have a comfortable home complete with indoor plumbing, heat and air, and modern conveniences which would have absolutely stunned Ma Ingalls. Whenever I may be tempted to grumble about household chores I remind myself of how good I actually have it.
Apparently I’m not the only one who uses the Ingalls family for perspective, either. Scary Mommy wrote a rather amusing post about this (mild language warning).
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I’ve read the books and have likely seen all the television series episodes at one time or another. Like another favorite, The Waltons, I consider Little House on the Prairie to be “comfort viewing”. When life gets a little too complicated, an hour or two with the Ingalls family or the Waltons helps me to recenter myself and regain a bit of perspective.
As a child I enjoyed LHOTP for the simplicity and charm of the stories but the relationship of the author and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane who served as editor and perhaps ghostwriter for the series is fascinating in its own right.
In fact, there are a lot of other resources out there for the LHOTP fan. For instance, “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography”:
“Hidden away since the 1930s, Laura Ingalls Wilder s never-before-published autobiography reveals the true stories of her pioneering life. Some of her experiences will be familiar; some will be a surprise.Pioneer Girl re-introduces readers to the woman who defined the pioneer experience for millions of people around the world.
Through her recollections, Wilder details the Ingalls family s journey from Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, back to Minnesota, and on to Dakota Territory sixteen years of travels, unforgettable stories, and the everyday people who became immortal through her fiction. Using additional manuscripts, diaries, and letters, Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography builds on Wilder s work by adding valuable context and explores her growth as a writer.
Author of an award-winning Laura Ingalls Wilder biography, editor Pamela Smith Hill offers new insights into Wilder s life and times. In an introduction, Hill illuminates Wilder s writing career and the dynamic relationship between the budding novelist and her daughter and editor, Rose Wilder Lane. Sharing the story of Wilder s original manuscript, Hill discusses the catalysts for Pioneer Girl and the process through which Wilder s story turned from an unpublished memoir into the national phenomenon of the Little House series.
Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography also explores the history of the frontier that the Ingalls family traversed and the culture and life of the communities Wilder lived in. This groundbreaking volume develops a fuller picture of Wilder s life and times for the millions of readers who wish to learn more about this important American author. It contains one hundred and twenty-five images, eight fully researched maps, and hundreds of annotations based on numerous primary sources, including census data, county, state, and federal records, and newspapers of the period.
An important historic and literary achievement, this annotated edition of Pioneer Girl provides modern readers with new insights into the woman behind the fictional classics Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy, Little House on the Prairie, On the Banks of Plum Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years.”
I read “The Wilder Life” by Wendy McClure a few years ago and found it rather interesting:
“Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder—a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places she’s never been to, yet somehow knows by heart. She traces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family— looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House—exploring the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura’s hometowns. Whether she’s churning butter in her apartment or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure is always in pursuit of “the Laura experience.” The result is an incredibly funny first-person account of obsessive reading, and a story about what happens when we reconnect with our childhood touchstones—and find that our old love has only deepened.”
And this one is now in my Amazon cart – The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Here’s the trailer:
I also found a few very interesting articles:
For lots more information about Little House on the Prairie, check out this website.
And for a little glimpse how “pioneer play” figured into my own childhood, here is a post I wrote back in 2010: