Today is the birthday of two of my favorite authors: Charles Dickens and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Sherry at Semicolon posted a great tribute to Charles Dickens that I really enjoyed reading, so I thought I might borrow a couple of ideas from her format to do the same for Laura. Mine won’t be as extensive because I am just now sitting down to the computer and want to post this today – but maybe I’ll expand on it for next year.
Some facts about Laura you may or may not know:
- She was born on February 7, 1867 and died February 10, 1957 (that’s why we hold the Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge in February).
- She didn’t start writing the Little House books until she was in her 60s.
- She had originally written one book called Pioneer Girl, but was advised to expand it. This manuscript has just been published for the first time (it was out of stock when I ordered it and I am eagerly awaiting it!)
- Laura’s daughter, Rose, was already a successful writer by the time Laura started writing, and the two collaborated on the Little House books. There is a great deal of controversy over exactly how the collaboration worked: some say Rose basically wrote them, others say she merely helped shape them. My opinion, from what I have read, is the latter, and I am wary of writers that claim to “know” one way or the other.
- Before Laura wrote her books, she wrote a column for the Missouri Ruralist: most, if not all, of those columns have been compiled into a book called Little House in the Ozarks (liked to my review.) There are over 140 articles or columns arranged by topic, and the topics range from WWI, women’s progress, and “the greatness and goodness of God,” but most are just observations drawn from everyday life.
- There was a Japanese series based on Laura’s novels called Laura, The Prairie Girl.
- Both Laura and Almanzo were fairly short. She was 4’11” and he was 5’4″. They had the kitchen in the last house built for their height.
- When asked why she didn’t write more books, one time she replied that the money she received from them cost her more in taxes. “She never found taxes on those who had labored their way to prosperity to be an incentive for even more labor” (Stephen W. Hines, I Remember Laura, p. 97). But another time she said that if she wrote more, she’d have to get into some of the sad times of her life (p. 122).
Some of my favorite quotes of Laura’s from her columns in Little House in the Ozarks:
- “Let’s be cheerful! We have no more right to steal the brightness out of the day for our own family than we have to steal the purse of a stranger. Let us be as careful that our homes are furnished with pleasant and happy thoughts as we are that the rugs are the right color and texture and the furniture comfortable and beautiful” (p. 37).
- “It is a good idea sometimes to think of the importance and dignity of our everyday duties. It keeps them from being so tiresome; besides, others are apt to take us at our own valuation” (p. 130).
- “Just as a little thread of gold, running through a fabric, brightens the whole garment, so women’s work at home, while only the doing of little things, is like the golden gleam of sunlight that runs through and brightens all the fabric of civilization” (p. 207).
- “Here and there one sees a criticism of Christianity because of the things that have happened [during WWI]…. ‘Christianity has not prevented these things, therefore it is a failure’ some say. But this is a calling of things by the wrong names. It is rather the lack of Christianity that has brought us where we are. Not a lack of churches or religious forms but of the real thing in our hearts” (p. 265).
Favorite moments in Laura’s books:
- When Mr. Edwards endured an arduous journey to bring Christmas presents to the Ingalls girls.
- When Pa played his fiddle in the evenings.
- When they thought they lost their dog, Jack, and he found them.
- The church Christmas party where Laura gets her fur cape and muff.
- The girls bringing in all the firewood during a storm when Ma and Pa are away after they heard about a house of children who froze.
- When Laura admires the kitchen Almanzo built for her in the first home together.
Fun links about Laura:
- The All About Laura Ingalls Wilder Quiz (I got 9 out of 10. 🙂 )
- I keep thinking I am going to cook something from the Little House Cookbook on Laura’s birthday, but it keeps sneaking up on me. The recipe I am most likely to try is Ma’s Vanity Cakes: one family’s experiment with them is here. They look a bit like small version of what is called here elephant ears or funnel cakes.
- Meet Laura Ingalls Wilder.
- The Little House Companion blog
- Books Related to Laura Ingalls Wilder
I think Laura is one of those people who gets prettier as they age. Here are pictures of her at different stages of life:
Every time I read Laura’s books, I admire the strength and resolve of their family. It wasn’t a perfect family, but there was love, industry, strength, and much more to respect and learn from.