I was talking with a friend about the upcoming Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge hosted here in February (more information is here), and she mentioned that she wanted to participate but would like to read something other than the Little House books. So I thought I’d share some of those titles for anyone else seeking that kind of information as well.
As far as I know, the only books that Laura wrote as books are the nine Little House ones, as well as her first unpublished book titled Pioneer Girl, (which is not the same thing as a biography of her by the same title) which she and her daughter, Rose, later reworked into the Little House series. But there are a few books of her writings compiled and published after her death. Those are:
Little House in the Ozarks: the Rediscovered Writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder, compiled and edited by Stephen Hines, a collection of newspaper columns and magazine articles she wrote before starting the Little House books, reviewed here. Saving Graces: the Inspirational Writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder, reviewed here, is a collection of inspirational or faith-based columns pulled from this book. The same editor’s three books beginning with Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder appears to be the same type of thing: some of the columns from the first book sorted into different categories.
On the Way Home, a diary of her move with her husband and daughter in a covered wagon from South Dakota to Missouri.
West From Home, letters Laura wrote to Almonzo while visiting their daughter in San Francisco, where she visited the World’s Fair.
A Little House Traveler contains the above two books plus the previously unpublished The Road Back, about the first trip she and Almonzo took back to De Smet, where Laura grew up and where they met.
A Little House Sampler, stories and writings of Laura as well as of Rose Wilder Lane, compiled by William T. Anderson.
There may be some other “compilation” type books, but these are the ones I know of. I have only read the one compiled by Stephen Hines so far.
Laura’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, wrote Let the Hurricane Roar (also known as Young Pioneers) about her grandparents’ “prairie life,” I believe before the Little House books were written or planned. Laura didn’t start writing until in her 60s, if I remember correctly. Another of Rose’s prairie-based books is Free Land: I am not sure if that one was specifically based on her family’s story or not. I have not read either of these but I have Let the Hurricane Roar on hand and hope to read it next month. These books are written for adults, while Laura’s were written for children. Rose wrote a number of other books: she was more well-known as a writer than her mother until the Little House books caught on: then Laura’s fame surpassed hers. There is disagreement in scholarly circles as to how much of the Little House books was actually written by Rose. Rose insisted they were all her mother’s work, but it seems likely that Rose would have shaped and edited them to some degree. Those who have read more of Roses’s writing seem to feel that her style is so different from that of the Little House books that they can’t believe she would have been the main writer behind them. That’s what I like to think, but I suppose we’ll never know for sure.
Some years ago Roger Lea MacBride published a series of books based on Rose’s childhood. When I first saw them, I didn’t realize they were about Rose and I was miffed that someone was seeming to horn in on the Little House fame by trying to write similar books. I didn’t realize until last year that MacBride was something of an unofficial adopted son of Rose’s and her sole heir. I didn’t realize until today that he was the co-creator and co-producer of the Little House on the Prairie TV series and that he had the rights to them. So he was much more closely related to the Little House world than I thought. I’d like to read these books some time but I don’t think I’ll get to them this year. I will forewarn you, though, that Rose is a very very different person than her mother in many ways. Of course, the times in which she grew up were quite different as well.
A more modern and kind of fun, though irreverent, book relating to Laura is The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Laura fan extraordinaire, reviewed here. Wendy set about to try to recapture something of “Laura world” by trying different Laura experiences (churning butter. etc.) and visiting the different sites where her family lived.
Then there are any number of biographies about Laura. So far I have only read I Remember Laura by Stephen W. Hines, reviewed here, a collection or articles and interviews of people who actually knew Laura.
Then there is Laura’s Album: A Remembrance Scrapbook of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson, a Little House Cookbook (which I bought but have not delved into yet), a Little House Crafts Book, The Little House Guidebook about the different sites and museums associated with Laura.
Those are the Laura-related books I am familiar with. Do you know of any others?