The Private Lives of Authors: Laura Ingalls Wilder

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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.

Frank McCourt: Wise Words From The Teacher Man

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Frank McCourt was born on 19th August 1930 in Brooklyn New York. His family moved back to Ireland during the Great Depression, where his alcoholic father, found it difficult to come by and keep a job. After McCourt’s father left Limerick, his mother struggled alone, to bring up Frank and his siblings in abject poverty.

McCourt returned to NewYork in 1949, where he managed to survive doing odd jobs, until he was drafted during The Korean War. On his discharge he managed to bluff his way into New York University, where in 1957 he graduated with a batchelor’s degree in English. He went on to teach at six schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan and earned his master’s degree in 1967. Read More

8 books by left-handed authors to celebrate ‘International Left Handers Day’

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Left handers have been mocked and demonised throughout the years, especially from religious people who believe the left hand to be ‘unclean’, or accusing left handers to be ‘consorting with the devil’.

As absurd as those claims may seem now, some of the negativity towards left-handed folk remains to this day. Left handers were still battling in the 20th century against people like American psychoanalyst Abram Blau, who accused all left-handers of being perverts. Even seemingly well-meaning teachers still insist on their student switching hands when they start to learn to write.

If only left handers were just left to be lefties! Some of our favourite writers were left-handed, and it is said that lefties tend to be more creative and arty than right handers.

Here’s a list of 8 of our favourite lefty writers.

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Nobel Prize Winning Author VS Naipaul Dies

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Novelist VS Naipaul has died peacefully at home in London just a few days before his 86th birthday. The Nobel Prize winning author of more than thirty books including A Bend in the River and A House for Mr Biswas was born in rural Trinidad in 1932 and went on to become a key figure in British literary heritage.

Sir VS Naipaul had been in ill health for a while and published his final work, the nonfiction The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief in 2010. Today the literary world is in shock. Here are some of the tributes on Twitter today.

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Roots Author Alex Haley Talks of the Horrors of Slavery

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Alex Haley (August 11th, 1921 – February 10th, 1992) was an American author, best known for his 1976 Pulitzer Prize winning book Roots: The Saga of an American Family, adapted to a series a year later in 1977.

While a fantastic story, Roots was not without controversy and its release was marred by accusations of plagiarism (proven to be partly true), and doubts cast on the authenticity of the family ties. Today the book is accepted to be a work of fiction, and controversy aside is still a worthy read with an important message.

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Chinese Crime Writer Who Used His Own Murders as Inspiration for His Stories Sentenced to Death

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Last year, we reported the news that the Chinese crime author Liu Yongbiao had been arrested for the decades old murder of four people he and a friend killed after a robbery went wrong. Following his trial a few days ago, the 53-year-old has been sentenced to death for the murders which occurred 23 years ago.

In 1995, Liu Yongbiao and an accomplice named Wang Mouming robbed a hostel. After being discovered, the two killed a family of three as well as another guest by beating them to death him hammers and clubs in order to cover their tracks. Since the crime, Liu became a famed writer and was even a member of the China Writers’ Association.

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A Story Ernest Hemingway Wrote in 1956 Is to Be Published for the First Time

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Ernest Hemingway is arguably one of the finest authors to have ever put pen to paper, and his given us many modern classics such as A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea. Fans of Hemingway will be very pleased to learn that, more than 60 years after it was first written, a Hemingway story called A Room at the Garden Side is set to be published for the first time.

For decades, the novel has remained hidden away from scholars and academics, but has finally resurfaced. The story takes place in the Ritz Hotel, Paris, a setting which has appeared in previous Hemingway novels and holds personal significance for the author. The novel is narrated by a character called Robert, who happens to share Hemingway’s own nickname, Papa. Robert and his band of soldiers, who are all due to leave the city the next day, spend their time drinking and debating “the dirty trade of war.”
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