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.

Charles Dickens’ Contribution to Science to Feature in Exhibition

By | Authors, Culture, Literary Events, Literary Places, News | No Comments
Charles Dickens: Man of Science is a current exhibition running at the Charles Dickens Museum until November 11th and the exhibition is looking at the author’s contribution to science, and notably medicine.

Dickens astute observations on human behaviours means he spotted many illnesses and their symptoms before they were recognised by the medical community and his descriptions so accurate that they can be used to build correlation between symptoms and disease.
Read More

Some Surprising Facts about J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan

By | Authors, Children's Literature | No Comments
J. M Barrie (9th May 1860 – 19th June 1937) was a Scottish novelist and playwright, best remembered today as the writer who brought us Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up.

After being born and educated in Scotland, Barrie moved to London where he wrote more plays and novels. It was here he met the Llewelyn Davies boys who inspired him to write about a baby boy who has magical adventures in Kensington Gardens (The Little White Bird), and to write Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, a fairy play about an ageless boy and an ordinary girl named Wendy. Read More

Mary Shelley to Be the Focus of ‘Genius’ Season 3

By | Authors, News, Television | No Comments
In 2017, National Geographic launched a new TV series called Genius, which explores the lives of famed historical figures one might well label a genius. The first season followed Albert Einstein, the second Pablo Picasso, and it has now been confirmed that a third season is in the works and will follow the gothic writer Mary Shelley.

“Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein left an indelible mark on generations of imaginations,” said Carolyn Bernstein, EVP, global development and production for National Geographic Global Networks. “Equally inspiring is the story of Shelley’s relentless innovation, coupled with her desire to live on her own unconventional terms despite immense societal and cultural obstacles.” Read More

Quotes on Life and Literature by Joyce Carol Oates

By | Authors, Quotations | No Comments
Joyce Carol Oates is an American writer (16th June 1938) whose first book was published in 1962. Through the years Oates has published over forty novels, plays and novellas and many volumes of short stories, poetry and nonfiction too.

Oates is one of the most celebrated American authors of our time and has won many awards including the National Book Award for her novel Them (USUK), two O. Henry Awards and the National Humanities Medal. She has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize six times. Read More

Samoan writer brings taboo subjects to the fore in new book.

By | Authors, New Releases | No Comments
Samoan artist and writer Sia Figiel has a new book out this year that tackles human stereotypes and taboos.

Sia was heavily influenced by the Somoan culture she grew up in and names her greatest inspiration as Samoan novelist and poet, Albert Wendt. She is best known for her earlier novels Where we Once Belonged and Girl in the Moon Circle.

Her latest novel tackles difficult subjects and attempts to dispel certain myths and stereotypes and, she says, only took her 6 weeks to write!

Read More

What keeps Judith Kerr writing after 50 years of success?

By | Authors, Children's Literature | No Comments
Judith Kerr is a writer and illustrator who is best known for her debut children’s book The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Published in 1968, The Tiger Who Came To Tea is so popular that it has never been out of print. 30 books have been created- all written and illustrated by Judith- and 50 years have passed, but Judith is still drawing and writing every day.

What makes a successful artist keep working well into their 90s?

The Telegraph gave some answers in an exclusive interview with Kerr at her home- the one with the very same kitchen as featured in her debut book The Tiger Who Came To Tea. 

Here are some of our favourite quotes from that interview.

Read More

Leave a Reply