Laura Ingalls Wilder is beloved for her classic book series Little House on the Prarie, but what if the stories weren't the whole truth? The South Dakota Historical Society's releasing Pioneer Girl: An Annotated Autobiography to show the reality of pioneer life.
Fifty-seven years after death, Laura Ingalls Wilder's Pioneer Girl: An Annotated Autobiography will hit shelves on Monday, November 17, and the stories may shock audiences. Music Times reports the book will include topics such as domestic abuse and alcoholism. And according to reports, Wilder penned the autobiography before developing the classic children's book series Little House on the Prairie, but could not find a publisher for the harsher view of prairie life.
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Hidden away since 1930, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s original autobiography reveals the true stories of her pioneering life. Some of her experiences will be familiar; some will be a surprise. Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography re-introduces readers to the woman who defined the pioneer experience for millions of people around the world.
The highest point of Wilder’s popularity occurred between 1974 and 1983 when NBC production's chronicled Halfpint’s life. The television series was based on the Little House books, but took a few liberties for dramatic effect. Melissa Gilbert earned critical acclaim playing Laura—from childhood until marriage to Almanzo Wilder at age 18. Michael Landon portrayed family patriarch Charles Ingalls and Karen Grassle as pioneer woman Caroline Ingalls.
As stated by the Historical Society, “Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her autobiography, Pioneer Girl, in 1929―1930 when she was in her early sixties.” And “throughout the 1930s and into the early 1940s, Wilder utilized her original manuscript to write a successful children’s series,” later adapted by Landon. Laura died on February 10, 1957 in Mansfield, Missouri at the age of ninety.
The latest copy will offer fans a deeper look into the Ingalls’ journey across the country while trying to succeed in the Western frontier.
Together, Editor Pamela Smith Hill and the South Dakota Historical Society Press worked to create a single landing source for media information and ad campaign at PioneerGirlProject.org. The site offers background on how the annotations made it into the book, as well as completing any historical inaccuracies—in part due to the fact reminiscing does not create a perfect chronological order of events.
Wilder details the Ingalls family’s journey through Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, back to Minnesota, and on to Dakota Territory— sixteen years of travels, unforgettable stories, and the everyday people who became immortal through her fiction. Using additional manuscripts, diaries, and letters, editor Pamela Smith Hill adds valuable context and explores Wilder’s growth as a writer.
Stories will include Mary Ingalls's journey to the Iowa College for the Blind, the story of a teacher caught in a blizzard with three of his children, and the courtship of Almanzo and Laura through historical accuracy. The quintessential prairie myths morphed into contemporary predicaments as the Society pieced together a more complete look at Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life.
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For those who did not preorder, the publisher says Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography will be available in stores on November 26 for $39.95. Just in time for Christmas.