Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Laura Ingalls Wilder the Adult

I was a big fan of the written series of Little House books. One of my favorite Christmas presents was The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set. My friends and I read and reread the books, sharing our favorite scenes and coming to know the characters. This was before the Michael Landon's butchering of the books with Little House on the Prairie: The Complete Television Series. Yes, I said butchering. I think he could have written a pioneer show that centered on himself with a focus on morals and values without ruining the series for a generation of children. I am still amazed when I hear people upset that the books or biographies of Laura Ingalls Wilder get it "wrong" because it is not the story they remember from Landon's version. It is sad when people fail to remember television is not known for historical accuracy.

I caught the end of an ABC biography The Little House on the Prairie that detailed the time period around the first two Little House books. Unable to locate a second showing on my cable system I borrowed the DVD from the library. One issue I have discovered with borrowing both DVD's and now book CD's from the library is they vary in condition. Sadly, this one had a tough life. The scratches made it challenging to watch. However, it left me with more questions I wanted answered. I had not done much biographical research about Laura Ingalls Wilder. I knew from reading other autobiographies that people can write more about how they felt than from historical accuracy. Details and events are not always written about in a manner a biographer will take. That is why some have taken to calling Laura's books historical fiction. She has moved and manipulated events in her books to suit her writing.

For instance, the trip from the Big Woods was actually two trips, not one. The family did return after the first trip and removal from Indian Territory prior to setting out again. Laura's account compiles all the events into one book about her family's experiences in the Little House in the Big Woods.

Watching the DVD left me with more questions than answers. However, as with many things, time gets in the way and my questions were postponed. There were things I wanted to know. For instance, what happened to Mary Ingalls? Sadly, Google searches keep bringing up references to the show and the life of the actress that played her. Not the information I wanted to know. I was curious about the real Mary Ingalls. I knew she would not have had the fairy tale ending Michael Landon gave her married and teaching at the school for the blind, but there was still a story. What happened to Laura and Almanzo after The First Four Years? I knew they eventually ended up in the Ozarks. Why did they go there?

Over the next few days, I will share the biographies I read and some of what I learned.

Pictures may not be used without written permission


  1. I love her books too...I am anxious to read what you find out.

  2. On The Way Home is the book you will want to read for the trip from South Dakota to Missouri. I am fascinated with her whole life. Often, I think I may have been born too late as I love that period in history. Cute dress!

  3. Little House Traveler combines the trips in one book. It includes the On the Way Home and has the additional trips to visit Rose in California and back to De Smet with Almanzo by car.

  4. Oh my goodness that is perfect! I love it!