Laura Ingalls Wilder Biography

American author Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her childhood experiences in most of her “Little House” books. Beginning with Little House in the Big Woods, published in 1932, these stories portray the drama and excitement of pioneer life in the late 1800s.

Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957), American writer, famous for a series of historical novels for children known collectively as the Little House books. Laura Ingalls was born near Pepin, Wisconsin. She trained to be a teacher and taught for several years before marrying farmer Almanzo Wilder in 1885. After enduring a series of hardships, they moved to Missouri in 1894 and settled on Rocky Ridge Farm near Mansfield.

When Wilder was in her sixties, her daughter urged her to write down her vivid childhood memories of growing up on the American frontier. The Little House series, loosely based on Wilder's life, gives a detailed and realistic portrayal of pioneer family life, full of warmth, humor, and drama. Beginning with Little House in the Big Woods (1932), the Wisconsin cabin in which she was born, Wilder chronicles her family's westward migration to the Little House on the Prairie (1935) in Kansas, to Minnesota On the Banks of Plum Creek (1937), and finally to the Dakota Territory By the Shores of Silver Lake (1939). The Long Winter (1940), Little Town on the Prairie (1941), and These Happy Golden Years (1943) describe Laura's teenage years, her first teaching assignment, and her marriage to Wilder, whose childhood story is told in Farmer Boy (1933).

American author Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the Little House series between 1932 and 1943. Little House on the Prairie, one of the books in the series, was first published in 1935. The novels were based on her experiences as a child growing up on the frontier. This book later formed the basis of a television series by the same name that was popular during the 1970s and 1980s.

Three books were published after her death: The First Four Years (1971), the last in the Little House series, which tells of Laura and Almanzo's early married life; On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894, with her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane (1962); and West from Home (1974), a collection of letters she wrote to Almanzo while visiting San Francisco in 1915. Roger Lea MacBride, editor of West From Home and Lane's adopted grandson, has written two books which continue the Wilders' story and which are told from Rose's perspective; Little House on Rocky Ridge (1993) and Little Farm in the Ozarks (1994).

Starting with On the Banks of Plum Creek, the last five Little House books published during Wilder's lifetime were named Newbery Honor Books (see Newbery Medal). In 1954 she was the recipient of the first Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, given by the American Library Association. Named in her honor, this award is presented every three years to an author or illustrator who has made a “substantial and lasting contribution” to literature for children. Wilder's Little House books were the inspiration for a popular television series, “Little House on the Prairie,” which aired in the 1970s and 1980s.

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