Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman behind the Legend

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman behind the Legend

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman behind the Legend

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman behind the Legend

Synopsis

Although generations of readers of the Little House books are familiar with Laura Ingalls Wilder's early life up through her first years of marriage to Almanzo Wilder, few know about her adult years. Going beyond previous studies, Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder focuses upon Wilder's years in Missouri from 1894 to 1957. Utilizing her unpublished autobiography, letters, newspaper stories, and other documentary evidence, John E. Miller fills the gaps in Wilder's autobiographical novels and describes her sixty-three years of living in Mansfield, Missouri. As a result, the process of personal development that culminated in Wilder's writing of the novels that secured her reputation as one of America's most popular children's authors becomes evident.

Excerpt

The books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, one of America's best-known and most widely read authors of children's literature, continue to fascinate children and adults alike. They provide an appealing picture of life on the agricultural frontier during the 1870s and 1880s. The eight novels that she published between 1932 and 1943 are prominently displayed in many bookstores, often in their own special section that includes other books written by and about her, not to mention a growing proliferation of Laura Ingalls Wilder cookbooks, songbooks, date books, trivia books, calendars, and other spin-offs. Recently, several new fictional series have appeared, extending the stories of her daughter Rose's life after the family moved to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894, and of her mother Caroline Ingalls's childhood near Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Wilder's books gained instant popularity upon their publication during the 1930s and 1940s and continue to enjoy strong sales. They acquired additional readers and fans between 1974 and 1983 with the airing of the television series Little House on the Prairie, starring Michael Landon as Pa, Karen Grassle as Ma, and Melissa Gilbert as Laura. The episodes possessed only the most tenuous relation to historical fact, but they continue to be rerun today, to the delight of Wilder fans everywhere. One of the most intriguing aspects of the Wilder phenomenon is the huge popularity she enjoys in many foreign countries, especially Japan. Her novels have been translated into more than forty languages and dialects.

When people today think about Laura Ingalls Wilder, they usually conjure up one of two images: either a young girl and adolescent named . . .

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