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Pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the autobiographical “Little House” kids’ book series, the basis of the popular television show Little House on the Prairie.
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In the 1920s, Wilder’s first attempt at writing an autobiography, called Pioneer Girl, was uniformly rejected by publishers. Determined to succeed, Wilder spent the next several years reworking her writing, including switching the title and changing the story to be told from the first-person perspective.
In 1932 Laura Wilder published Little House in the Big Woods,
the first book in what would become an autobiographical series of children’s books, collectively called the “Little House” books. Just as Little House in the Big Woods recounts her life in Pepin, Wisconsin, each of her books focuses on one of the more memorable places she lived. Other books in the “Little House” series include Little House on the Prairie, Farmer Boy, On the Banks of Plum Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years. Wilder completed the last book in the “Little House” series in 1943, when she was 76 years old.
In 1949, when Almanzo died, Wilder stayed on at Rocky Ridge, reading and responding to her readers’ fan mail. On February 10, 1957, she died on the farm in Mansfield, Missouri. Following Wilder’s death, her daughter, Rose, edited and published several posthumous works based on her diary and incomplete manuscripts.
Little House on the Prairie, a television show based on Laura Wilder’s life, aired in 1974 and ran until 1982. Children across the country followed Laura’s tragedies and triumphs, watching as actress Melissa Gilbert, in her spunky yet earnest portrayal, grew up on the screen. The show generated further interest in Wilder, and helped spawn new generations of “Little House” readers.
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