Original Laura Ingalls Wilder Autobiography Reveals the Real Life on the Prairie

Posted on August 21, 2014

Pioneer Girl The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie books are American classics. In November, fans will get a chance to read the original work which inspired the popular children's series.

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography will be published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press. It has been locked away since 1930 and form all accounts will be quite a revelation to readers.

The original book by Laura Ingalls Wilder told a much harsher tale of prairie life with stories of spousal abuse, drunkenness and a steamy love triangle (the publisher won't reveal who was involved in the triangle). The book was rejected by multiple publishers. But when Laura and her journalist daughter Rose revised the book for a young adult audience, the publisher that would become HarperCollins snapped it up.

Pioneer Girl was the first in the series, although the third book, Little House on the Prairie is the best known of the books. That was the title that was used for the long-running television series which starred Melissa Gilbert as Laura.

The new book has the same basic structure as children's books. The story follows the Ingalls family as they travel in search of prosperity. They begin in Kansas and have adventures, trials and tribulations in push further West through Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and eventually to the Dakota Territory where the federal government eventually evicted all the homesteaders as they were on what is now protected Native American lands.

It was a huge project for editor Pamela Smith Hill who added diaries, letters, and additional manuscripts to the book. She also provides context and commentary. We look forward to reading this next chapter in the Little House saga.

Photo: South Dakota Historical Society Press

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