Wilder, Laura Elizabeth Ingalls

Wilder, Laura Elizabeth Ingalls, 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 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. These novels, lively accounts of a loving, challenging, hardscrabble pioneer life, began with Little House in the Big Woods (1932), published when she was 65. Extremely popular, the series 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). In creating these novels, Ingalls was aided by her daughter, the journalist and writer Rose Wilder Lane, 1886–1968, who rewrote and edited the original works, adding dramatic structure to her mother's manuscripts. The degree of Lane's participation, which varied from book to book, has been disputed by several biographers. Ingalls' novels were also 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), and P. S. Hill (2007), 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: American Literature: Biographies

Browse By Subject