Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder was a well-known American author, most widely known for the popular series of children's books, Little House on the Prairie, written between 1932 and 1943, based on her upbringing in a family of pioneers and settlers.
Five Facts about Laura Ingalls Wilder
Laura’s father, Charles Phillip Ingalls, was a descendant of the ancestral family of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
She was President Ulysses S. Grant's third cousin, once removed.
She married Almanzo Wilder when she was 18.
Her husband nicknamed her Bessie, the short form of her second name Elizabeth. This is because he had a sister named Laura.
She had a nickname for her husband: Manly.
Inspirational Quotes from Laura Ingalls Wilder
Home is the nicest word there is.
Suffering passes, while love is eternal. That's a gift that you have received from God. Don't waste it.
Remember well, and bear in mind, a constant friend is hard to find
A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing.
Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Biography
Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was born on February 7, 1867. At the time, the family lived north of Pepin which was located in the Big Woods area of Wisconsin.
She was the second of five children, the others being Mary Amelia, Caroline Celestia (Carrie), Charles Frederick (who died in infancy), and Grace Pearl. Laura’s home in Pepin was the setting for her first book, Little House in the Big Woods.
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Husband and Children
On August 25, 1885, Laura, then 18 years old, married Almanzo Wilder, who was 28, in De Smet, South Dakota. Laura and Almanzo’s daughter, Rose was born on December 5, 1886. In 1889, she gave birth to a son who died 12 days later.
Their first few years of marriage were difficult. An illness left her husband, Almanzo, partially paralyzed after which he needed a cane to walk for the rest of his life.
Many unfortunate setbacks in their married life included the death of their newborn son, a fire destroying their barn along with its hay and grain, the loss of their home from an accidental fire started by Rose, and several years of severe drought.
All these left them deeply in debt, unable to earn a living from their 320 acres (129.5 hectares) of land in the prairie.
These trials were documented in Laura's book The First Four Years in 1971. From 1890 to about 1894, they moved around but finally settled down in Mansfield, Missouri where they bought a small farm just outside the town.
Over 20 years, after a lot of struggle, they were able to make their Rocky Ridge Farm a prosperous poultry, fruit, and dairy farm.
Laura was an expert on poultry farming and started getting a lot of invitations to speak and share her knowledge.
In 1911, Laura was invited to write a column for the Missouri Ruralist. Her column became popular and she went on to become editor of the paper. She was with the paper till the mid-1920s.
By 1924, she had a lot of experience writing for the local papers, and her daughter Rose encouraged her to improve her writing skills to become an author. Her daughter Rose was a writer and had many connections in the publishing world.
Mission and Work
Laura and her daughter lost everything in the Stock Market Crash of 1929. These events prompted Laura to write an autobiography, but it was rejected by many publishers.
Her daughter Rose used her connections and editing skills to finally get a book published in 1932. This was Little House in the Big Woods. The book was a huge success. Laura continued to write, with help and collaboration from her daughter. The result was a series of eight books that became very popular.
Controversy surrounds the authorship of the books. Some people suggest that Rose ghostwrote the books for her mother Laura.
However, there is no doubt that even though Rose had the writing style, the content was Laura’s. The books that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote are still very popular.
Later Life, Death, and Legacy
From 1935 onwards, Laura and Almanzo lived alone on their farmhouse, looking after their animals and plants. Fans of her books would come to meet them. In 1949, Almanzo died at the age of 92. Three days after she turned 90, Laura died in her sleep on February 10, 1957.
In 1971, The First Four Years, was published, compiled by her daughter Rose from Laura’s diaries. In 2014, A Pioneer Girl, her autobiography, was published.
Her legacy lives on. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the TV series The Little House on the Prairie, based on Laura’s books was very popular. Even today, her homely books give one a glimpse into the life and times of a pioneer family.
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