The Private Lives of Authors: Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born on the 7th of February, 1867 and died on the 10th of February, 1957. The American writer was best known for the children’s book series Little House on the Prairie (1932 to 1943), based on her childhood as a part of a settler and pioneer family.

A television series was produced in the 70s and 80s and was loosely based on Ingalls’ books- it starred Melissa Gilbert as Laura and Michael Landon as her father, Charles. She is still celebrated today all across the USA, with museums and honouring her, and her name marking her previous homesteads throughout the country.

Rumour says her daughter helped write the famous books

Rumor has it that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter, Rose, helped write and edit the Little House book series.  The mother-daughter team apparently didn’t always get along but records show how Rose had helped with Pioneer Girl, Laura’s autobiography, and her notes can be found in the margins of an original Little House manuscript.

Laura and her sisters were mostly home educated

They moved so much as children that formal education was difficult. They did attend regular schools in a one-room schoolhouse whenever they could alongside other homestead families. Anyone who grew up on a farm knows how much work there is to do, so school work fell by the wayside in favour of keeping the farm going. The family also moved so much it wasn’t possible to stick to one school.

She was distantly related to President Roosevelt

Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family were distantly related to the 32nd President of the United States- Franklin Delano Roosevelt- the president best known for his ‘New Deal’ during the Great Depression.

Their genealogical link goes back to Laura’s great-grandfather, Samuel Ingalls, who married into the Delano family. The union of Samuel and Margaret produced Laura’s grandfather, Lansford Whiting Ingalls. The Delano and Ingalls family can trace their heritage back to the Mayflower, along with two more presidents- Franklin Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge- who can also trace their family back to the Delanos’s on the Mayflower.

Her first writing job was at a newspaper

Laura Ingalls Wilder started her writing career in 1911 and wrote until 1924 as a columnist for the Missouri Ruralist- a paper that was aimed at farmers and people who lived in rural areas. Laura’s column provided advice on a number of topics, and she took advantage of the fact people would be reading by pushing her own feminist agenda. In some of her articles she explained how women are equal partners to their husbands and helped explain what they could do with their newly-won right to vote.

She became a teacher at age 15

Despite her limited formal education, Laura passed exams and became a teacher at age 15. She needed to earn money for her family after her sister Mary was sent to a special school for the blind so Laura worked at Bouchie School- 12 miles away from her family’s farm- and stayed there during the week to avoid the treacherous journey to and from home.

She overcame many obstacles in her life, and endured much tragedy

Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder married in 1885, and married life was tough. They both contracted diphtheria 3 years after their wedding and her husband Almanzo almost lost his life to a stroke while in recovery. They lost their second child, an unnamed son, 9 days after his birth in August of 1889.

Later that same month their farmhouse burned down so they moved to Florida in hopes of a better life but did not settle until they moved to Missouri via South Dakota.

PEN America to Sue Donald Trump for Restricting Freedom of Speech

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Writers’ group PEN America, which consists of many well known writers and novelists, has filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York against President Donald Trump for ‘violations of America’s First Amendment’.

The group is attempting to “stop President Trump from using the machinery of government to retaliate or threaten reprisals against journalists and media outlets for coverage he dislikes”. The First Amendment of the US constitution protects freedom of speech and PEN aren’t the only group to voice concerns about how Trump has attempted to shut down journalism.
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PG Wodehouse to Be Honored with a Memorial at Westminster Abbey

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Fans of PG Wodehouse will be pleased to learn that, 43 years after his death, the author is set to be memorialised by Westminster Abbey. The news was especially exciting to the the Wodehouse Society and by Ben Schott, the author of a new Jeeves and Wooster story, who described the Jeeves and Wooster creator as the “personification of a very specific breed of English writing.”

Schott stated that when the news was announced that the Dean of Westminster had given permission for a memorial to Wodehouse in the abbey, “there was a ripple of joy that it was happening, but also puzzlement that it hadn’t happened before.”
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John Cunliffe author of Postman Pat dies

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The beloved author of Postman Pat, John Cunliffe, has died aged 85.

Postman Pat has been a part of many British children’s lives since 1981 when the first story was published. Cunliffe took inspiration from the Lake District when creating Postman Pat’s home- the fictional village of Greendale- with its rolling hills and dales, and small farms and villages.

Pat, and his feline friend Jess, drive about the village delivering letters, working through problems, and getting into the occasional scrape. The stories were commissioned by the BBC to produce a series of animations, which proved popular for over 40 years!

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New Book Explores the Relationship Between Writers and their Cats

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Released last month, Writers and Their Cats does exactly what it says on the tin. Writers are a solitary sort, at home all day, and so it does make them perfect for keeping house pets and cats and writing kind of go hand in hand. I’ve often wondered how many authors have a feline muse, draped across their lap as they type and now it seems this new book has all the answers.

This volume celebrates forty five famous writers including Mark Twain, Haruki Murakami, and Ursula K. Le Guin, who have shared their home and writing space with a feline friend. There are photographs and stories all exploring that special bond between wordsmith and mouser.

Here’s a taster:

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Haruki Murakami Withdraws His Book from This Year’s Alternative Nobel Prize

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Famed Japanese author Haruki Murakami has requested that his 2017 book Killing Commendatore be withdrawn from this year’s alternative Nobel Prize in Literature award. This year sees an alternative award called the New Academy Prize in Literature, as the original has been postponed this year following a sexual misconduct scandal.

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