Birthday: February 7, 1867
Died At Age: 90
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Born in: Pepin
Famous as: American writer
Quotes By Laura Ingalls Wilder
Spouse/Ex-: Almanzo James Wilder
father: Charles Phillip Ingalls
mother: Caroline Lake Quiner Ingalls
siblings: Caroline Celestia Ingalls, Charles Frederic Ingalls, Grace Pearl Ingalls, Mary Amelia
children: Rose Wilder Lane
Died on: February 10, 1957
place of death: Mansfield
awards: 1954 - Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal
Who was Laura Ingalls Wilder?
Laura Ingalls Wilder was an American writer who became famous with the ‘Little House’ series of children’s novels based on the childhood memories of her life in the Midwest region of the U.S. When she was a child, her family, consisting of her parents and several sisters, moved frequently, often disrupting the girls’ formal education. She, once, lived with her family in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, the place which provided the settings for the first book in her famous series of children’s novels. Her early life was a bit unconventional—her father changed his jobs often and moved his family to different interesting locations which ensured that the would-be writer had rich and diverse experiences which she would later recollect in her books. She began working at a young age as she wanted to help her family financially. She accepted a teaching position when she was only 16 though she was not really interested in the profession. She also supplemented her income by working for a dressmaker. As a young woman the thought of being a writer never crossed her mind, it was only when her grownup daughter became a writer that the mother too was inspired to write.
Childhood & Early Life
She was one of the five children born to Charles Philip Ingalls and Caroline Lake Ingalls. She had three sisters and one brother who had died as an infant.
Her father was a restless man who kept changing his jobs. As a result, the family had to move quite often. Laura had spent her childhood at various places like Wisconsin, Kansas, and Missouri before finally settling down in De Smet, South Dakota.
She attended high school in De Smet but she never graduated.
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She started working as a teacher in 1882 when she was just 16 years old. Even though she was young, she wanted to contribute to her family financially.
From 1883 till 1885, she taught in a school, worked for a dressmaker and attended high school.
She got married in 1885 at the age of 18, leaving behind her studies and teaching career.
She settled down to a life of domesticity with her husband and daughter when misfortunes struck. Her husband became partially paralyzed due to diphtheria and their home burned down in 1890.
After struggling for years, they bought a farm in Missouri in 1894. They named this farm the Rocky Ridge Farm. Over the next many years they worked hard to develop a poultry, dairy and fruit farm.
Her daughter Rose Wilder Lane grew up to become a writer and encouraged her to write. Laura was appointed as a columnist and editor with the ‘Missouri Ruralist’ in 1911 and worked with the publication till the mid 1920s.
Her column ‘As a Farm Woman Thinks’ became very popular among the women readers. She used to write on a variety of topics like family life, farming, world war, traveling, etc.
At the behest of her daughter, she wrote her first novel in 1932. The novel titled ‘Little House in the Big Woods’ told of her experiences in their small house in Wisconsin describing in detail the farming activities and household experiences.
The very next year she wrote a book, ‘Farmer boy’ about her husband’s childhood and growing-up in the town of Malone during the 1860s.
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The third book in the series, ‘Little House on the Prairie’ was published in 1935. She wrote about the time her family spent in Kansas, and the difficulties and dangers they faced there.
After leaving the Kansas prairie, her family moved to Plum Creek, Minnesota and she recollected the experiences in the novel ‘On the Banks of Plum Creek’ (1937).
Her novel ‘By the Shores of Silver Lake’, published in 1939, covers a period of one year in the life of the 12 year old protagonist. She wrote of the sad incidents like her sister’s blindness and death of the family dog in this book.
In ‘The Long Winter’ published in 1940, she described the harsh winter of 1880-81 which was so severe that the family did not even have enough coal to keep warm, or proper food to eat.
The ‘Little Town on the Prairie’ (1941) was one of the more popular novels of the series. The author who began working even before her 16th birthday described her experiences as a schoolteacher.
Her 1943 novel, ‘These Happy Golden Years’ was the last book in the series published during her lifetime. This book covered a period of three years in her life and focused on her relationship with the man whom she eventually married.
Some of her previously unpublished works were later published posthumously. These included ‘On the Way Home’ (1962) and ‘The First Four Years’ (1971).
She is famous as the author of the celebrated ‘Little House series’ of novels. Even though the novels appear to be autobiographical in nature, they actually belong to the historical fiction genre. Her books are still in print and have been translated into 40 different languages.
Awards & Achievements
The American Library Association inaugurated The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award which was presented to her in 1954. The award honours an author or illustrator who has made a substantial contribution to children’s literature in the U.S.
Personal Life & Legacy
She married Almanzo Wilder in 1885 and gave birth to two children, one of whom died in his infancy. Her daughter Rose Wilder Lane was a journalist-cum-writer.
She always wanted to live to be 90, and had her wish fulfilled when she died in her sleep on 10 February 1957, three days after her 90th birthday.
A television show based on her life titled, ‘Little House on the Prairie’ ran from 1974 till 1982.
She was nick-named ‘Half-Pint’.