Laura's "Little House" Books

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Laura's daughter Rose became a famous writer in the early 1900s. Rose recalled the stories her mother had told her during her growing-up years, and thought that other children would be as interested in those pioneer stories as she was. She encouraged her mother to write down the stories, and Laura did. The first manuscript of what would eventually become the "Little House" books was called Pioneer Girl, and told of Laura's entire childhood, until she married Almanzo Wilder. This manuscript was rejected by editors, and has never been published.

Laura's manuscript was then reworked into a picture book for children, called When Grandma was a Little Girl. This book focused on the stories Pa had told Laura and Mary when they were very little girls in the Big Woods. This book was gradually expanded into its present form, and published under the title of Little House in the Big Woods in 1932.

Over the next decade, Laura continued her story book by book, until in 1943, young Laura was married in These Happy Golden Years. This book completed the "Little House" series.

Over the next few years, Laura's books were translated into a number of languages, and they gained popularity all over the world. In the 1970s and early 80s, Michael Landon's television series Little House on the Prairie made Laura's name even more well-known.

Laura's books tell the story of the great hardships involved in settling the American Mid-West in the context of her warm and loving family. The Ingalls family made the most of the many setbacks they experienced and found real joy in their small victories. The honesty and detail of the books makes them interesting historical and social documents of the period, as well as entertaining reading. The "Little House" books have attracted interest from scholars since they represent a rare example of pioneer literature written from a child's perspective.
Laura wrote seven books about her own life. They are listed here with the dates and ages implied by the books.
(The dates and ages given here are sometimes different from the real events.)
Published            Book                 Dates      Laura's Age.
1932 -   Little House in the Big Woods  1871-1872        4-5  
1935 -   Little House on the Prairie    1873-1874        5-7
1937 -   On the Banks of Plum Creek     1874-1876        7-9
1939 -   By the Shores of Silver Lake   1879-1880       12-13 
1940 -   The Long Winter                1880-1881       13-14
1941 -   Little Town on the Prairie     1881-1882       14-15
1943 -   These Happy Golden Years       1883-1885       15-18
Laura's other "Little House" book, Farmer Boy (1933), tells of her husband Almanzo's childhood on a farm in northern New York State.
Information about Helen Sewell, the first illustrator of Laura's books.
Information about Garth Williams, the second illustrator of Laura's books.

Later Books

Laura's series for children ended with These Happy Golden Years, but Laura also wrote a manuscript narrating the first four years of her married life. It is not certain when this book was written, but many scholars believe Laura wrote it about the same time as her second "Little House" book, Farmer Boy, as a book for adults. The book was published in 1971 as The First Four Years.
In 1894, Laura, Almanzo, and Rose moved from De Smet, South Dakota, to Mansfield, Missouri. Laura kept a diary of their trip, and in 1962, Rose added information from her own memory and published the diary as On the Way Home.
In 1915, Laura went to San Francisco to visit Rose and to attend the World's Fair. She wrote frequent and lengthy letters to Almanzo during her stay, and these letters were published as West From Home in 1974.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl

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Rebecca Brammer & Phil Greetham
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