Wilder, Laura Elizabeth Ingalls

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Wilder, Laura Elizabeth Ingalls

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder, 1867–1957, American author of the classic Little House series of children's books, b. Pepin, Wisc. She and her pioneer family traveled (1869–79) throughout the Midwest and Great Plains by covered wagon, settling (1880) in the Dakota Territory. She became a rural schoolteacher at 15, married (1885) Almanzo Wilder, and moved (1894) with him to a farm in the Missouri Ozarks. Beginning to write in her forties, she recorded fictionalized tales of her childhood. The novels were inspired by an autobiography Wilder wrote in 1929–30; an annotated edition was published as Pioneer Girl in 2014. Lively accounts of a loving, challenging, hardscrabble pioneer life, the series began with Little House in the Big Woods (1932), published when she was 65. Extremely popular, the books came to include Farmer Boy (1933), Little House on the Prairie (1935), On the Banks of Plum Creek (1937), By the Shores of Silver Lake (1939), The Long Winter (1940), Little Town on the Prairie (1941), These Happy Golden Years (1943), and The First Four Years (1971). Ingalls was aided by her daughter, the journalist and writer Rose Wilder Lane, 1886–1968, who rewrote and edited the manuscripts, adding dramatic structure to the novels. The degree of Lane's participation, which varied from book to book, has been disputed by several biographers. The novels were the basis of a U.S. television series (1974–82).

See W. Anderson, ed., A Little House Sampler (1988) and A Little House Reader (1998); biographies of Ingalls by W. Anderson, (1992), G. Wadsworth (1996), J. E. Miller (1998), P. S. Hill (2007), and C. Fraser (2017), of Ingalls and Lane by J. E. Miller (2008), and of Lane by W. Holtz (1995); studies by J. Spaeth (1987), J. E. Miller (1994), V. L. Wolf (1996), A. Romines (1997), D. M. Miller, ed. (2002), and A. C. Fellman (2008).

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