With this blog I've done something a little different than I've seen on other blogs: combined the real life of Laura Ingalls Wilder with the shows based upon her famous children's books.
It seems fitting, therefore, that there be some type of discussion about whether you loved the books first or if you discovered the books because of Michael Landon's Little House on the Prairie.
And we must take the discussion one step further--because we know it will go there anyway--by asking how you felt about the show straying so far from Laura's books during the 10 Seasons (well, nine seasons and three movies) of LHOP. I know people who refused, and still refuse, to watch the show because it didn't remain true to the books.
My own experience with Laura's Little House books has a funny story...funny to me anyway. In Fifth Grade I had to choose a book to do a report on. I chose Laura's Little House on the Prairie. But for whatever reason, I just couldn't get into the book. I figure it had a lot to do with the fact that it wasn't as much like the show I had been watching for years (it was in Season 5) as I thought it would be.
Do you see where this is going yet?
Yes, I wrote my book report on what had been going on with the show for the past five seasons. I had Laura and her family living in Walnut Grove, Mary had wed Adam Kendall, and the Ingalls family had adopted an orphan named Albert. I really wish I had kept that report, but that C- staring me in the face bugged me.
I continued to watch LHOP until it ended in the early 80's. I'm not sure what made me finally pick up the Little House books again (sometime after I graduated from high school in '86), but I did. I was instantly hooked.
Now, my bookshelf is sagging with the numerous titles by and about Laura and her family.
I still love the show too. Maybe it's because I loved the show first and then loved and admired Laura's written work later, that the discrepancies between them never bothered me. Or it could be that since Laura's books are also partially fiction that I didn't mind the liberties taken by the show. I've always looked at the books and the shows based upon them as just different ways to honor Laura's legacy. If I wanted 100% factual information I would look for a documentary of Laura's life. But that's not what Little House on the Prairie was. Now, I'll admit the episodes that I enjoy most are the ones that I can relate back to the books, but there are also many episodes I adore that were written outside of the material found in the books.
I'm sure none of us is going to influence the other to think or feel differently, but I would sure love to hear your thoughts.
So, what came first for you: the books or the show? And how do you feel about the way the show brought Laura's books to life?
Dean Butler made this announcement at his blog yesterday:
This summer the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis will present the world premiere of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE…the musical. There are a couple of interesting developments in this production. As many of you already know Melissa Gilbert will be making her musical theatre debut playing Caroline…and my former Westside Story understudy, Steve Blanchard, will be there playing Charles. Its funny how the Little House world stays connected to itself. I have no doubt that this production will have a huge appeal for Little House fans…the real test of course will be to find out if the production has an appeal for non LIW devotees. We’ll all be waiting and hoping. Dean
The list below are some of the titles by and about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family that I own. I haven't updated this in a while so I'm sure I have more by now. Amazingly, new titles continue to be released, which attests to the impact that Laura Ingalls Wilder had on the literary world.
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House in the Big Woods Little House on the Prairie Farmer Boy On the Banks of Plum Creek By the Shores of Silver Lake Little Town on the Prairie These Happy Golden Years The First Four Years On The Way Home West From Home
The Martha Years by Melissa Willey
Little House in the Highlands On the Far Side of the Loch Down To The Bonny Glen Beyond the Heather Hills
The Charlotte Years by Melissa Wiley
Little House by Boston Bay On Tide Mill Lane The Road from Roxbury Across the Puddingstone Dam
The Caroline Years by Maria D. Wilkes
Little House in Brookfield Little Town in the Crossroads Little Clearing in the Woods On Top Of Concord Hill Across the Rolling River Little City by the Lake A Little House of Their Own
The Rose Years by Roger Lea MacBride
Little House On Rocky Ridge Little Farm in the Ozarks In the Land of the Big Red Apple On the Other Side of the Hill Little Town in the Ozarks New Dawn on Rocky Ridge On the Banks of the Bayou Bachelor Girl
Books and booklets by William Anderson
The Horn's Book Laura Ingalls Wilder Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Iowa Story The Story of the Wilders The Story of the Ingalls The Walnut Grove Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder The Little House Guidebook Laura Ingalls Wilder Country A Little House Reader Laura Ingalls Wilder-A Biography Laura's Album
Stephen W. Hines
Saving Graces I Remember Laura Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder Volume 1 Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder Volume 2 Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder Volume 3
Days of Laura Ingalls Wilder by T. L. Tedrow (entire series) A Little House Sampler Laura Ingalls Wilder An Author’s Story by Sarah Glasscock Laura Ingalls Wilder Growing up in the Little House by Patricia Reilly Giff The World of Little House by Carolyn Strom Collins A Little House Christmas-Vol 1 A Little House Christmas-Vol 2 Laura--The Life of LIW by Donald Zochert Old Town in the Green Groves by Cynthia Rylant Little House Sisters A Little House Christmas Treasury A Little House Traveler Writings from LIW’s Journeys across America (includes On the Way Home, West From Home and the never before released The Road Back (Laura’s journey to De Smet, SD in 1931)
John E. Miller
Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Town Where History and Literature Met
Ghost in the Little House by William Holtz (bio of Rose Wilder Lane)
This timeline is taken from the book The World of Little House by Carolyn Strom Collins and Christina Wyss Eriksson. A friend of mine posted it at a forum I belong to and I am adding it here for my readers. It covers not only Laura's life, but that of her family and major events that took place during her lifetime.
Charles Phillip Ingalls and Caroline Lake Quiner are married in Concord, Wisconsin, on February 1.
Abraham Lincoln is elected president of the United States.
Eliza Quiner marries Peter Ingalls
The Civil War begins at Fort Sumter, South Carolina
The Dakota Territory is formed
Joseph Quiner is killed at the Battle of Shiloh.
Congress passes the Homestead Act, which gives 160 acres of land to any U.S. citizen who lives on it.
The Ingallses move to the Big Woods
In September, Charles and Caroline buy eighty acres for $335 with Uncle Henry and Aunt Polly Quiner.
The Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves, goes into effect.
Lincoln delivers his Gettysburg Address.
Lincoln proclaims the last Thursday in November as a national Day of Thanksgiving.
Mary Amelia Ingalls is born on January 10, in Pepin, Wisconsin.
Two of Pa's brothers, Hiram and James, join the Minnesota Volunteers and fight in the Civil War.
General Robert E. Lee surrenders to General Ulyssses S. Grant at Appomattrox.
Abraham Lincoln is assassinated on April 14 by John Wilkes Booth.
Congress passes the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery.
Almanzo, age 9, wins the blue ribbon for his giant pumpkin at the Franklin, New York, county fair.
Alfred Nobel invents dynamite.
Laura Elizabeth Ingalls is born on February 7, in Pepin, Wisconsin.
Almanzo Wilder is ten years old (born February 13, 1857).
The Ingalls family moves to Chariton County, Missouri.
The Osage Indians sign a treaty with the United States government for their land in Kansas Reserve.
Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is published.
Congress passes the 14th Amendment, granting citizenship to African Americans.
The Ingalls family leaves Chariton County, Missouri, and settles in Montgomery Coounty, Kansas.
The first railroad linking the east and west coasts of the entire United States is completed.
The first postcards are issued.
Laura is three years old.
Caroline Celestia (Carrie) Ingalls is born on August 3, in Montgomery County, Kansas.
Congress passes the 15th Amendment, granting the right to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
The Ingalls family moves back to Pepin, Wisconsin.
Laura attends school for the first time.
The Wonders of the Animal World (Pa's "Big Green Animal Book") by G. Hartwig is published.
Montgomery Ward opens the first catalogue house.
P.T. Barnum opens his circus, "The Greatest Show on Earth," in New York.
Congress passes the Timber Culture Act, granting 160 acres of timberland to any U.S. citizen who cares for 40 acres for five years.
The Ingalls family moves to Walnut Grove, Minnesota.
Tom Quiner, Ma's brother, joins the first party of prospectors in the Black Hills of western South Dakota.
The first American zoo is established in Philadelphia.
Charles Frederic (Freddie) Ingalls is born in Walnut Grove, on November 1.
The Wilder family moves from Malone, New York to Spring Valley, Minnesota; Almanzo is eighteen years old.
Baby Freddie Ingalls dies on August 27.
The Ingalls family moves to Burr Oak, Iowa, to help run the Burr Oak House.
The first U.S. patent for the telephhone is granted to Alexander Graham Bell.
The Sioux Indians, led by chiefs, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, defeat General Custer and the Seventh Cavalry in the Battle of Little Bighorn.
Grasshoppers are declared "Public Enemy #1" in Minnesota, and the government offers children up to fifty cents for every bushel of dead grasshoppers collected.
Grace Pearl Ingalls is born on May 23, in Burr Oak, Iowa.
The Ingalls family returns to Walnut Grove, Minnesota.
Thomas Edison invents the phonograph.
Laura wins a reference Bible for reciting 104 Golden Texts and Central Truths perfectly.
W.A. Burpee begins selling seeds by catalogue.
Mary falls ill and slowly loses her sight.
The Ingalls family moves to Dakota Territory and helps settle the town of De Smet.
Almanzo, his brother Royal and their sister, Eliza Jane file homestead claims for land near De Smet.
Laura is thirteen years old.
The Ingallses move into their new homestead, but return to town after an early blizzard hits, and the long winter begins.
Pa becomes Justice of the Peace in De Smet.
Five Little Peppers and How They Grow by Margaret Sidney is published.
Helen Keller is born.
Mary, Carrie and Laura have their first photograph taken.
Ma and Pa take Mary to the Iowa School for the Blind in Vinton, Iowa.
Eliza Jane Wilder begins teaching at the De Smet school.
President James A. Garfield is assassinated by Charles Guiteau.
Billy the Kid is killed by Pat Garrett at Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
Clara Birton founds the American National Red Cross.
Laura receives her teacher's certificate and begins teaching at the Bouchie School (called Brewster School in These Happy Golden Years).
William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody organizes the first Wild West show.
Standard time is established. The railroads demarcate the four time zones.
Laura and Almanzo become engaged.
Almanzo and Royal leave De Smet for the New Orleans Exposition.
Oil is discovered in Independence, Kansas; eventually there will be twenty-three oil wells on the land that once surrounded the little house on the prairie.
Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is published.
The first sky-scraper, the ten-story Home Insurance Building in Chicago, opens.
Laura and Almanzo are married on August 25 in De Smet.
David Swazey, Carrie's future husband, suggests the name Mount Rushmore for the now-famous mountain in the Black Hills.
The Washington Monument is dedicated in Washington, D.C.
Rose Wilder is born on December 5 in De Smet, Dakota Territory.
The Statue of Liberty is unveiled in New York harbor.
Coca-Cola appears on the market in Atlanta, Georgia, and is advertised as a remedy for fatigue.
Pa and Ma, Mary, Carrie and Grace move into their new home in town.
Laura and Almanzo are stricken with diphtheria.
Laura and Almanzo's son is born and dies twelve days later.
Laura and Almanzo's house is destroyed by fire.
Mary graduates from the School for the Blind.
South Dakota becomes a state.
Laura is twenty-three years old.
The Wilders leave De Smet, South Dakota, and spend a year with Almanzo's parents in Spring Valley, Minnesota.
The Seventh Cavalry of the U.S. Army defeats Chief Sitting Bull and the Sioux Indians at the Battle of Wounded Knee. Sitting Bull dies.
Peanut Butter is first introduced in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Wilders move to Westville, Florida
The Wilders return to De Smet, South Dakota
Pa sells the claim and adds a two-story wing onto the house in town.
The United States government purchases the Cherokee Strip from the Cherokee Nation. The 6 million acres of land between Kansas and Oklahoma are made available to white settlers.
The Wilders leave De Smet and travel to Mansfield, Missouri, where they purchase Rocky Ridge Farm
The Wilders begin construction on the first phase of their new farmhouse at Rocky Ridge--the kitchen, a front room, and an attic bedroom.
X-rays are used for the first time in the United States for the treament of cancer.
In Plessy vs. Ferguson, the Supreme Court rules that designating "seperate but equal" facilities for African Americans does not violate the 14th Amendment.
Helen Moore Sewell, the first illustrator of the Little House books, is born.
John Philip Sousa writes "Stars and Stripes Forever."
The Wilders rent out the farm and move into town. Almanzo's parents visit on their way to their new home in Louisiana.
The U .S. battleship Maine is blown up in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, killing more than 260 people. The Spanish-American War officially begins.
James Wilder, Almanzo's father, dies in Louisiana.
Laura is thirty-three years old.
The cake walk becomes the most fashionable dance in the United States.
Dr. Walter Reed of the U.S. Army Medical Corps discovers that the yellow fever virus ("fever 'n' ague") is transmitted by mosquitoes.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum is published.
Grace Ingalls marries Nathan William Dow in De Smet on October 16. They live in Manchester, South Dakota, seven miles west of De Smet.
President McKinley is assisinated by Leon Czolgosz.
Laura returns to De Smet to see Pa, who is critically ill from heart failure.
Charles Ingalls dies on June 8.
Rose goes to Louisiana with Almanzo's sister Eliza Jane.
Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully fly a powered airplane in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
The teddy bear, named after President Theodore Roosevelt, is first introduced.
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin is published.
Rose graduates from high school in Crowley, Louisiana, and takes a job as a telegraph operator in Kansas City, Missouri.
Angeline Wilder, Almanzo's mother, dies in Crowley, Louisiana.
Albert Einstein formulates the theory of relativity with the equation E=mc2.
Henry Ford manufactures the first Model T automobile.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery is published.
Rose Wilder, age twenty-three, arries Gillette Lane in San Francisco.
The Lincoln-head penny is issued by the Philadelphia Mint on the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. It replaces the Indian-head penny.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded under the leadership of W.E.B. Du Bois.
Laura is forty-three years old.
Halley's Comet is observed.
The Boy Scouts of America is formed.
The Camp Fire Girls is formed.
Laura Ingalls Wilder publishes her first article in The Missouri Ruralist, titled "Favors the Small Farm Home."
Carrie Ingalls marries David N. Swanzey on August 1.
The Titanic, an "unsinkable" luxary liner making its maiden voyage from Englad to the United States, collides with an iceberg and sinks, killing 1,513 people.
The Girl Guides, forerunner of the Girl Scouts, is formed.
The Wilders add the parlor, library, porches, and separate rooms to the farmhouse at Rocky Ridge.
Laura visits Rose, who is a newspaper reporter, in San Francisco.
Norman Rockwell illustrates his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post.
Laura helps organize the Mansfield Farm Loan Association and serves as its secretary-treasurer.
The United States enters World War I.
Rose Wilder and Gillette Lane divorce.
World War I ends.
Congress passes the 18th Amendment, outlawing transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages and ushering in the era of Prohibition.
Laura is fifty-three years old
Hugh Lofting's The Story of Dr. Doolittle is published
Congress passes the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women suffrage.
Rose receives the second-place O. Henry Award for her short story "Innocence"
Rose gives Laura and Almanzo a new car and teaches Almanzo how to drive
Caroline Quiner Ingalls dies in De Smet on April 20, at age 84.
The Scopes "monkey trial" is held in Dayton, Tennessee. John T. Scopes was arrested on May 5 for teaching the theory of evolution to his students in violation of state law. Scopes was convicted and fined $100.
F. Scott Fitzgerald publishes The Great Gatsby.
Don Juan, the first talking picture presented to an audience, is shown in New York City.
Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr., flies nonstop from New York to Paris.
While visiting Carrie in Keystone, South Dakota, Mary suffers a stroke and dies on October 17.
Rose builds a rock house for Laura and Almanzo on the Rocky Ridge property.
Laura and Almanzo move into the rock house and Rose moves into the farmhouse.
On Black Tuesday (October 29), over 16 million shares are dumped for whatever they could bring, causing the stock market to crash and ushering in the Great Depression.
Academy Awards are presented for the first time to honor outstanding achievement in filmmaking.
Laura is sixty-three years old.
Laura and Almanzo drive to De Smet and then to the Black Hills of South Dakota to visit Grace and Carrie.
The Empire State Building is completed.
Little House in the Big Woods, illustrated by Helen Sewell, is published by Harper Brothers.
Rose Wilder Lane's Let the Hurricane Roar is published by Harper Brothers.
Amelia Earhart is the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic nonstop.
Farmer Boy is published.
In an emergency session that lasts one hundred days, Congress passes legislation to aid farmers and the unemployed.
Little House on the Prairie is published.
Rose Wilder Lane's Old Home Town is published.
Laura and Almanzo celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary.
The Homestead Act is repealed.
Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind is published.
On the Banks of Plum Creek is published.
Laura and Almanzo move back into the farmhouse at Rocky Ridge after living nine years in the rock house.
Laura and Almanzo travel to Detroit, where Laura speaks at a book fair.
Rose Wilder Lane's Free Land is published.
Laura and Almanzo travel with their friends Silas and Neta Seal to the west coast.
By the Shores of Silver Lake is published.
Laura and Almanzo travel to De Smet to the Old Settlers' Day celebration.
John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is published.
Laura is seventy-three years old.
The Long Winter is published.
Walt Disney's Fantasia opens in movie theaters.
Little Town on the Prairie is published.
Grace dies on November 10.
Japanese troops attack Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Congress declares war against Japan. Germany and Italy declare war against the United States.
The Mount Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota is completed after fourteen years.
These Happy Golden Years is published.
Franklin D. Roosevelt is reelected for a fourth time. He is the only president elected to four terms.
Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies, ending the European phase of World War II.
The United States drops the first atomic bomb ever to be used in war on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, it drops the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.
Japan surrenders and the Pacific phase of World War II ends.
The United Nations is formed in San Francisco.
E.B. White's Stuart Little, illustrated by Garth Williams, is published.
Carrie dies on June 2.
Garth Williams visits the Wilders at Rocky Ridge in preparation for his new illustrations for the Little House series.
Almanzo dies on October 23, at age 82.
The Detroit Public Library names a branch after Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman is staged on Broadway and wins the Pulitzer Prize.
Laura is eighty-three years old.
The Laura Inalls Wilder Room at the Pomona Public Library in Pomona, California, is dedicated.
War with Korea declared.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Library in Mansfield, Missouri, is dedicated.
E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, illustrated by Garth Williams, is published.
The eight Little House books are reissued with Garth William's illustrations.
War with Korea ends.
Puerto Rico becomes the first United States commonwealth.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award is created by the American Library Association.
Dr. Jonas Edward Salk announces development of the first polio vaccine.
In Brown v. the Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court declares racial segregation in the schools to be unconstitutional.
Jim Henson creates Kermit the Frog, the first Muppet.
Laura dies on February 10, three days after her birthday, at age 90.
Helen Moore Sewell dies.
Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas are published.
Anyone familiar with Michael Landon's Little House on the Prairie remembers Mrs. Foster, Walnut Grove's faithful Post Mistress, who was played by actress Ruth Foster.
Susan McCray has informed me that Ruth Foster will be participating in this year's Lompoc Flower Festival Parade, which will take place at 10:00 AM on Saturday, June 28, 2008 in Lompoc, California. We understand from Ruth's nephew that she is thrilled to participate. In addition to Ruth's work on Little House, she is an accomplished dancer and stand-in for many films and television shows. She was also an associate producer for Fatal Confession: A Father Dowling Mystery staring Tom Bosley and Tracy Nelson.
We congratulate Ruth on this honor and hope that some of you may get the chance to see Ruth as she travels along the parade route in Lompoc on June 28th.
And don't forget to check out Ruth's two-part interview with Susan McCray on Getting to Know You, which airs on KSAV.org every Tuesday night at 6:30 PM Pacific and 9:30 PM Eastern. You'll find this interview in the archives.
Here is a book review of The Long Winter that I wrote last year. I've made a few changes to it since its original publication, but you'll probably be able to figure out it's one of my favorites.
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
On the Dakota prairie, the muskrats built their thick-walled houses and the geese flew south with great haste, not even stopping to rest in the Big Slough. Pa Ingalls watched these signs and worried of what they foretold.
The Long Winter continues the saga of the Ingalls family--pioneers who continued to move west until they finally settled in the new town of De Smet in Dakota Territory. A surprise October blizzard leaves Pa fearful for his family’s safety as their claim shanty is in no condition to withstand the seven months of storms a wise Indian has predicted.
Pa moves Ma, Mary, Laura, Carrie and Grace into the store building in town so they can be snug and warm, and close to supplies. But the constant blizzards, sometimes only a day or two apart, keep the trains from reaching De Smet. There is no coal, no kerosene, no flour, and no game to hunt. The men go to work on sunny days with picks and shovels, trying to clear the Tracy cut so that the trains can get through to the townspeople who are slowly wasting away. Then the word comes--no trains until spring, and the people of De Smet wonder how long they can survive.
The reason I am drawn to this book is because of its wonderful descriptions. Wilder paints a clear picture of what it was like to live in Dakota Territory during that harsh winter. From the hunger for food, to the frost covered nails on the roof of her house, to the piercing screams of the constant blizzards, Wilder pulls me in. I feel the pain Laura experiences as she watches her family suffer through the dangers of living in a new town where not even rabbits can be hunted for food. I admire Almanzo and Cap as they risk their lives to save the townspeople. And I join in the excitement of waiting for that first train to arrive after months of no supplies.
A book of courage against seemingly insurmountable odds makes The Long Winter a must read for all Laura Ingalls Wilder fans.
Susan McCray was the Casting Director on Michael Landon's Little House on the Prairie and is married to Little House Producer, Kent McCray. While Kent tells me he's pretty much retired these days, Susan is busier than ever. You can hear Susan every Tuesday night at KSAV.org where she interviews celebrities and successful people from all walks of life on her show Getting to Know You.
In the archives you'll find interviews with Little House on the Prairie stars:
Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey) Pamela Roylance (Sarah Carter) Stan Ivar (John Carter) Dean Butler (Almanzo Wilder) Karen Grassle (Caroline Ingalls) Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls Wilder) Kent McCray (Producer) Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster) Gil Gerard (Chris, "The Handyman" episode)
In addition, you'll find a Dabbs Greer memorial show, which aired on May 8, 2007. Dabbs Greer played Reverend Alden on Little House on the Prairie.
This is a great show and Susan has a real talent in getting people to open up and talk about their lives. Check out KSAV.org every Tuesday night at 6:30PM Pacific/9:30PM Eastern.
Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura, an all new documentary about Almanzo's childhood is being produced by Dean Butler's Peak Moore Enterprises and Legacy Documentaries. The release date has been moved from Spring 2008 to September 2008 in order to allow Butler to capture additional footage he was unable to get last time he visited Almanzo's childhood home in Burke, NY.
This DVD documentary will be sold exclusively through the Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead site.
Remembering the Last Farewell. Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls Wilder, on Michael Landon's Little House on the Prairie, and Dean Butler, return to Walnut Grove to remember what it was like during the final days of Little House on the Prairie. This DVD will include never before seen pictures that make this DVD a must have for all Little House fans.
In October 2007, Dean Butler, who played Almanzo Wilder on the hit family show, Little House on the Prairie, launched a website and blog for Peak Moore Productions' Legacy Documentaries.
While Little House on the Prairie was the highlight of Butler's career, he also has many other memorable TV spots to his credit, including starring in The New Gidget and playing the recurring role of Buffy's often absent father, Hank Summers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Butler also appeared in the big screen movie Desert Hearts and spent some time on Broadway performing in various musicals.
Butler--now an Executive Producer--founded Peak Mooore Productions in 1981. Fifteen years later the Legacy Documentaries brand was born. Legacy Documentaries focuses on "capturing life's defining moments."
This is another entry that I copied over from my Aspiring Author blog. You'll notice the title of this book has been changed to Young Pioneers.
As I mentioned a while back, I requested a copy of Rose Wilder Lane's Let the Hurricane Roar from a neighboring library. I wasn't sure what to expect after not being overly thrilled with Rose's story about the Beatons.
Let the Hurricane Roar tells the story of newlyweds Charles and Caroline who leave their home in the Big Woods and settle in a sod house on Plum Creek. Anyone familiar with the history of Laura Ingalls Wilder knows Charles and Caroline were Rose's maternal grandparents. But Rose does not give her main characters a last name, though she did give one to all the other characters.
There is Mr. and Mrs. Svenson who are Charles and Caroline's closest neighbors, and Loftus, to whom Charles owes a large debt after the grasshoppers come and destroy his wheat crop. Mr. and Mrs. Henderson own a store in town and Mrs. Decker is the wife of the saloon keeper. With the exception of the Svenson's, the other characters are mentioned only in brief moments, but they have last names, unlike Charles and Caroline and their son, Charles John who is born in the sod shanty.
Why is important? Maybe it's not, but in Holtz's book The Ghost in the Little House the author mentioned an incident between Rose and her mother that might have been part of the reason for the exclusion. Not that I can find the page right now--if I do, I'll add it here--but during one of Rose's stays at Rocky Ridge Farm, she was explaining her latest story to a group of friends who were also staying on the farm and Laura told her she got it all wrong because she knew it was the story of Charles and Caroline Ingalls. Holtz mentions that perhaps Laura felt Rose should not use Ma and Pa as the basis for her story because Laura was writing her own stories where Ma and Pa were important characters and she felt protective of those memories.
By not giving Charles and Caroline a last name in Let the Hurricane Roar, Rose could have been protecting herself and her story, or maybe she even made a deal with her mother to not add the last names so there would be no direct connection. But, we might never know for sure.
Moving on, people who have studied the real lives of the Ingalls family will notice right away that there is a good deal of fiction in this novel. Charles and Caroline Ingalls did not leave the Big Woods by themselves, Mary and Laura were young girls when they left Wisconsin, and their son never made it out of infancy.
We know from Laura's books and other biographies of the Ingalls family that the grasshoppers did come and destroy every green thing on the prairie and that Charles was forced to find work to support his family. But other than that, the events in Let the Hurricane Roar don't seem very similiar to what I've read of the Ingalls family history.
Let the Hurricane Roar was much shorter than Free Land,but that wasn't the main reason I was able to polish it off within three days. This story held my attention from beginning to end. It didn't start off with a young, happy couple who were optimistic about the future and then turn into a tale of despair and hardship against insurmountable odds. Even with all the challenges Charles and Caroline faced, they approached each new page in their lives with a positive outlook. Sometimes it was hard to do-- Caroline and Charles were both lonely when they were apart, Caroline was forced to make tough decisions when Charles was back East working, Charles's return home was delayed by an injury and Caroline and the baby had to survive the winter alone after the Svenson's gave up and returned to Minnesota--but they were determined to make it work.
Let the Hurricane Roar could easily be compared to one of Laura's books--some of the content, the tone, and the song lyrics remind me of the Little House series. There is, of course, one exception to that rule--The First Four Years. This manuscript was not published in Laura's or Rose's lifetime. In this book, Laura tells us about her first four years of marriage to Almanzo, the birth of Rose, the loss of their home to fire, and the death of their son who hadn't even been given a name yet. It was a trying time for Laura and Almanzo and the tone of this book is very different from the other eight books she had written about her life.
Rose had sent this manuscript to Roger Lea MacBride, who would eventually become her heir. It was MacBride who took the manuscript to Harper & Row after Rose's death. A decision was reached to publish the manuscript as Laura had written it.
Yet, if one were to compare the tone of The First Four Years to Free Land they might see the same smiliarities I do when I compare Let the Hurricane Roar to the rest of Laura's books. But, since Rose did not touch Laura's manuscript of The First Four Years we might think the similarities are coincidence.
Where does that leave us? I'm sure there are more than the two options I am listing here, but these are the ones I will concentrate on. Rose could have taken eight of Laura's manuscripts, performed heavy editing on them--rewriting entire portions--and even coordinated getting the manuscripts to the publisher. She could deserve to be listed as co-author of these eight books because they wouldn't have sold without her. But what about The First Four Years? Rose never touched it and amazingly this manuscript and Rose's own Free Land are similiar in tone and style.
There is also a thought traveling through my mind, however, that perhaps the similiarties between Rose's Let the Hurricane Roar and the first eight books of the Little House series, and those found between Free Land and The First Four Years could be chalked up to something not as controversial. Rose grew up in Laura's house, where her mother shared many of the stories she had heard growing up. Perhaps, Rose's and Laura's writing styles were not so disimilar overall. If I did not see such a clear connection with the way Free Land and The First Four Years are written, then this theory would not hold water. But, I do see that connection, and Rose never touched the final manuscript her mother had written.
So, what's next? Well, Old Town Home is a collection of stories by Rose Wilder Lane. I need to read more of Rose's writing to see how the storyteller in her interacts with the reader. I have multiple books with Laura Ingalls Wilder collections in them, so it will be interesting to see if my second theory has any merit.
I guess that means more reading for me and more blog posts for you. LOL!
I enjoyed the last few chapters of Free Land more than any other portion of the book. David and Mary Beaton welcome their second child, David buys a herd of sheep from a widowed woman who is going back east, and the Beatons are visited by David's parents for the first time since they moved west.
The hope for the future--which was missing for most of the book--returns in the final chapters, making me want to keep reading. I'm never sure, if I enjoy a story ending which ties up every loose end or one that leaves the reader thinking of what is in store for the characters after the last words are written. While Rose left the future up in the air for the Beatons, I felt it ended in the appropriate place. James Beaton makes a decision which ideally will help David prosper.
But we don't know what happens with David and Mary after that. Does David lose his flock to disease or does he become a successful sheep herder? Are David and Mary able to become wealthy enough to live in the same style they were accustomed to when they lived back east or do they lose everything? Or, do they end up prospering so greatly that they surpass even the wealth they once knew?
The possibilities for what happened to the Beatons are endless...just like all our futures. And it is fascinating to toss these ideas around in my head and think of stories left untold.
I have less than fifty pages left of Free Land to read. There have been parts that were so interesting I stayed up too late to read them, but most of the book hasn't drawn my interest. Maybe it's because the story is a bit familiar in spots--not unlike Rose's mother's stories. Maybe it could be the lack of optimism in the main characters or how the Beaton's marriage has been adversely affected by trying to make it on their own in a somewhat unsettled territory.
The lengthy descriptions which I enjoyed reading in the Anne of Green Gables books by Lucy Maud Montgomery, bore me to death in Free Land. I can't exactly pinpoint why. It certainly doesn't seem to make sense; unless I chalk it up to the fact that Montgomery was describing the beauty of the Canadian countryside, whereas Lane is typically describing the difficulties the Beaton's experience in living and farming under harsh conditions--raging blizzards, scorching heat, droughts.
But still, I must read it to the end so that I can figure out what happens.
I wonder too, if Laura Ingalls Wilder had written her books for an adult market instead of for children--would I enjoy them as much as I do? It truly seems that the one major element missing between Rose's book and her mother's is that undying optimism which the young narrator of Little House books portrays through words and actions.
Last night I ordered Let the Hurricane Roar from a local library. I'm curious to see how Rose portrays this story which is supposedly based upon the life of Charles and Caroline Ingalls. I believe I can get a more complete picture of Rose as a writer if I read as many of her books as I can find.
A strange thing happened as I sat in the tub reading Free Land. I actually thought for several pages I was reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter. While the names and some of the events were portrayed differently, and they occurred in Nebraska instead of Dakota Territory, there were many of the same details Laura had spoken of in her novel.
It was freaky to hear of David Beaton and his friends the Peters family--who he lived with during that hard winter--hauling hay from claim shanties, twisting the hay for fuel, hovering around the stove for warmth as the blizzards raged outside, constantly grinding seed wheat in the coffee mill, and even making a lamp made from a rag dipped in axle grease. All of these things happen in The Long Winter within the Ingalls house.
Now, we writers know that ideas are a dime a dozen and that there are no patents on them, but in The Ghost in the Little House, Holtz claimed Laura may have had a problem with Rose using what Mama Bess saw as "her" material. So, I find it odd that Rose would use this part of family history and publish it in 1938, while Laura was working on her own books and The Long Winter was published in 1940.
I can't imagine that readers at the time didn't make some kind of connection between the two--maybe they did. Granted, the Hard Winter is only part of Free Land, whereas Laura's book is entirely focused on that one winter and the hardships the town endured.
One good thing about Rose using this material--I was able to get all the way up to page 171 in Free Land because I liked the story.
Look for more comments about Free Land as I read through to the end.
I have copied this entry from my Aspiring Author blog, where it appeared in April 2007.
I snagged a copy of Free Land by Rose Wilder Lane from the Worcester Public Library. I thought it might help me to figure out how I felt about Holtz's claims in The Ghost in the Little House and the amount of Rose's involvement in her mother's books.
This book tells the story of David Beaton, a young man who leaves his father's farm to set out on his own with his new wife Mary. As I had mentioned in other posts on my blog, Rose's father Almanzo is the inspiration behind this book. The curious thing is that many of the names are the same. David's father is named James, David has two sisters named Alice and Eliza, and a brother named Perley. As far as I can tell, the only names that were changed in this novel are Almanzo's (David) and Royal's (Raleigh). David's mother is simply referred to as mother.
I've made it to Chapter 16, which is found on page 83 of this 332-page novel. I wish I could say it's been easy reading. I guess I had this silly thought it would be so much like the Little House books that I would love it. But, this is an adult novel, not fiction for children, so the difference is clear. Lane does provide a good amount of detail so that you can get a picture of what it was like for David and Mary as they suffer through a blizzard while on the way to their claim shanty. They are forced to seek shelter underneath their sleigh because they cannot find the railroad camp--which unknown to them they passed 11 miles back.
Since I only have until April 20th to complete the reading of this novel, I best get moving on it. That's one of the problems with borrowing a book from the Virtual Catalog--there are no renewals. I'm hoping that there will be a moment where I suddenly find myself so interested in the novel that I can't put it down. It hasn't happened yet, but it took me over 600 pages to get into Stephen King's The Stand, and I still think it's the best book I've ever read.
I'll be checking in here as I progress through the novel, giving you my thoughts as I did with The Ghost in the Little House. Perhaps reading Lane's book will help me make up my mind one way or the other about Rose's connection to the Little House series.
And I will close with one little bit of trivia. According to the IMDB, Blanche Hanalis was a writer for the TV movie Young Pioneers. She is also the one credited with adapting Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books for Landon's Little House on the Prairie.
I stayed up last night to read the final two chapters of The Ghost in the Little House. At the age of 78, Rose was contacted by the editor of Woman's Day and asked to make a trip to Vietnam. Chapter 20 of Holtz's book is dedicated to Rose's trip--what she discovered, her opinions on what was going on in Vietnam at the time, and the article she ended up writing. Rose told the story of "the Vietnamese people in their centuries-old effort to throw off a series of foreign oppressors." Rose was very concerned about the Communist threat in America and abroad, and it appears those concerns shaped her story on Vietnam. As a lover of history, I found this chapter particularly interesting.
Prior to her death in 1968, Rose planned another trip to Europe. She was to set sail from New York on November 9th. Some time earlier, Rose decided she was suffering from diabetes--as her mother had. Her fear of doctors caused her to create a new diet for the ailment which she had self-diagnosed. On October 29th, she died in her sleep in her Danbury, CT home. Roger Lea MacBride, who had been in Rose's life for some time by this point, brought Rose's ashes back to Mansfield and laid them beside the burial place of Almanzo and Laura.
I've heard it said that most readers do not bother to look at prologues and epilogues, but to not read Holtz's epilogue would be to miss out on what happened after the deaths of the Wilders and their daughter. Laura's books continued to sell. MacBride found Laura's manuscript "The First Three Years and a Year of Grace" and her letters to Almanzo in 1915 when she went to visit Rose in San Francisco and to see the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The first was published as The First Four Years by Harper and Row in 1971; and three years later, West from Home would be published. Then came Landon's televsion show Little House on the Prairie and a TV dramatization of Let the Hurricane Roar titled Young Pioneers.
Holtz goes on to discuss how he became involved in writing his biography of Rose and he claims that even at the time he was writing this book, "Rose is regarded with suspicion in Mansfield, where people tend to be protective of her mother's reputation." He talked about three other people--Rose Ann Moore, William Anderson, and Donald Zochert--who also investigated Rose's involvement in the writing of Laura's books. He goes so far as to claim that Zochert, "guessed privately at more than he could prove regarding Rose's hand in the books." Holtz says there is a "spell of the mythical Laura Ingalls Wilder, frontier heroine and untutored genuis of the Ozarks, which prevented an adequate assessment of the daughter's hand in the mother's work," further claiming that Rose had created a shield that no one could penetrate.
The author sums up his book with what he hopes to have accomplished and that it was a "happy task to set the record straight."
I have experienced many emotions while reading this biography of Rose Wilder Lane. I have at times been excited to learn more about Laura and Almanzo's only surviving child. But a sadness fills my heart to think of who Rose was, as portrayed in this book. She is someone who seems to have been ruled by her own emotions--taken over by bouts of depression and harboring a resentment towards her parents. Rose always desired to write something more substantial than the meaningless articles she penned to pay her bills.
I wish I could say I came to a conclusion now that the book is over, but I haven't. I know what it is like to have a good editor, but just because I accept her suggestions does that mean I should share the byline with her? Holtz seems to make a big deal out of the fact that Rose typed all the manuscripts up for Laura. Perhaps Laura felt she did not need a typewriter if Rose had one; especially if Rose was going to review her manuscripts anyway.
While it has been my experience that being prolific in one aspect of writing does not mean you will do as well in other areas, her newspaper articles and poetry still show that Laura had some skill with a pen and paper. And while Holtz paints Laura as being a dunce when it comes to fiction writing-- so ignorant that she couldn't even take instructions from Rose on how to edit her own manuscripts--he can't possibly explain away her ability to write thought provoking articles for the Missouri Ruralist.
I am disappointed that Holtz took the road of discrediting Laura to prove his theories. If his theories are correct, they should have been proven without attempting to destroy Laura's reputation. It appears he feels there is some big secret that he has been smart enough to uncover, which couldn't have been unearthed while Laura and Rose were alive.
Maybe he's right. Maybe Laura and Rose did work hard to keep the public in the dark about how much Rose contributed to Mama Bess's books. But I find it hard to believe that a child who wouldn't even help her elderly mother up when she fell down in public would feel obligated to keep such a secret, even after her mother's death.
So, while this book is ended, I still have lots more to do. As I mentioned earlier this week, I am going to review the Appendix at the end of Holtz's book which includes copies of passages from Laura's manuscripts and a version revised by Rose. I will compare these to my 1971 copies of the Little House books. And then I will see if I can get my hands on a copy of Free Land to see if the writing style is similiar. This might just serve to confuse me, however, because Holtz contends in his epilogue that, "Any acknowledgement of the mother-daughter relationship as writers [in Mansfield] casts Rose in the role of borrowing from her mother's work."
I hope you have enjoyed journeying through The Ghost in the Little House with me. I really liked reading this biography of Rose Wilder Lane when it spoke solely about Rose. She was an interesting but complex person. She got to travel to places I could only dream of seeing. And she made a name for herself in the world of writing, that seems after reading this biography, to be underrated.
I don't know if I will ever find the answers to my questions. I might never know what I feel about Rose's contributions to Laura's books. At some point, I might even enjoy living in blissful ignorance on what the truth really is. But I am glad I stuck with Holtz's book to the end, as it has renewed for me a desire to move forward with Laura Ingalls Wilder projects of my own.
If I sat down to write this entry a few days ago then the title and this message would have had a very different tone. I came across some of Holtz's comments that infuriated me. I almost abandoned the book on the spot, after spending numerous hours on it and being less than one hundred pages away from the end.
It started around page 292 when Holtz said it took Rose "more than a year of intermittent work to bring By the Shores of Silver Lake to publishable form." He claims that Laura's letters to her agent George Bye were written with instructions from Rose and that the two women were in cahoots to keep Bye in the dark about them working on the books together.
Then we move to the discussion of "The Hard Winter" manuscript which starts on page 302. Holtz says we can find, "mammoth and defining evidence of Rose's hand in converting her mother's primitive narrative into a lively and publishable manuscript" and he claims she rewrote the entire thing. He goes on to say that Rose did similiar work to all the other books too, but at this point Rose "seems to have abandoned any pretense at instructing her mother." The word "primitive" above is bolded by me because it really irked me when I read it, just like the next passage I will mention.
On page 306, Holtz has moved on to Wilder's next manuscript Little Town on the Prairie which he once again says is mostly written by Rose. He cites as an example the chapter entitled "Fourth of July". This is what he had to say: "Nowhere does the story leap more clearly to the eye with Rose's ideological imprimatur than in what she accomplished with Mama Bess's rudimentary chapter "Fourth of July"...the passage (where Pa begins to sing My Country 'tis of Thee and the entire town joins in) is wholly Rose's creation, and in it she has made her mother not merely a romantic but also an ideological heroine." Once again, I have bolded the one word that stuck in my craw.
By this time in Rose's personal life, she was against big government and was more into the writing and sharing of political theory than fiction writing. Holtz says during this time, Rose barely worked on anything of her own, but instead concentrated on rewriting her mother's books. The passage he mentions from "Fourth of July", as well as other passages in Mama Bess's books, he claims shows Rose trying to weave her ideological beliefs into her mother's stories.
Rose's work on Laura's books then takes a back seat to Rose's life--being investigated by the FBI because of a postcard she sent to radio commentator Samuel Grafton which they thought was subversive, her refusals of rationing cards during WWII, her attempts to avoid income tax by making as little money as possible, and how her ideological beliefs further developed after WWII and into the Cold War.
The most interesting chapter so far is the one entitled "Mother Remembered." Mama Bess has died and Rose finds herself more prosperous than she had been in years thanks to the royalties from her mother's books. Holtz has copied a letter from Laura to Rose which was written five years before her death, which Laura signed as Mama Bess with Laura Ingalls Wilder in parenthesis. Holtz claims this is Wilder's last assertion of her independent status as a writer.
The chapter makes a mention of how Rose had to adjust to life without her mother, which seemed very odd to me, unless it was meant to say Rose was finally free of the burden of caring for her elderly parents (Almanzo had died in October of 1949 at the age of 92.)
But the one thing that really sticks out to me is that Rose seems to want to continue the supposed ruse that Laura wrote her famous books all by herself. On pages 349 and 350 we learn that Rose now possessed her mother's manuscripts that had been left at Rocky Ridge Farm. They were discovered by Mr. and Mrs. Litchy who were working to make Rocky Ridge a memorial to their most famous resident. Rose returns the published manuscripts to the Litchys for use at the museum with a letter "cautioning them with the old fiction that they were early drafts not representing her mother's final intentions." Rose even went on to defend her mother when an article sought to claim that Laura "knew she could achieve a more artistic effect by altering the true facts occasionally." She wrote a letter to the author, Louise H. Mortenson in which Rose insists that Laura wrote the literal truth. Rose supposedly even took William T. Anderson to task when a copy of his booklet about the Ingalls family suggested that the Ingalls family had neighbors their first year in De Smet. She wrote, "This is a formal protest against your proposal to publish a statement that my mother was a liar." Holtz claims that Anderson corrected his copy to make it agree with Laura's books.
One has to wonder why Rose would go through all the trouble to protect the memory of a woman she seemed to dislike. If she and her mother battled so much, why would Rose insist on keeping their lie alive? Wouldn't it have made Rose even more famous if she came clean about all the work she did on her mother's books? Could revealing this hidden fact not have been Rose's chance to exact justice for her years of mistreatment?
I have only two chapters left to go and my mind is awash in suppostions. At the end of the book I found an appendix which shows samples of Laura's manuscripts versus what Rose wrote, so I know my research isn't done. I will pull out my 1971 Harper and Row Little House books and maybe even purchase Rose's Let the Hurricane Roar and Free Landto compare them.
Should I do this? Will it further confuse me? Or will it make things crystal clear and leave me wishing I left the whole thing alone? I don't know. I guess I'll have to think on it awhile. One thing is certain, that Holtz's book when he sticks solely to Rose's life and not to discrediting Laura, is a real page turner. I should know, I've been staying up too late every night to read it.
Since my last post about approaching this book with an open mind I have gone from enjoying the book to being disappointed. I have never experienced such joy and sorrow over learning something new.
From what I've read Rose certainly had an interesting life full of travels and writing. While I had heard about Let the Hurricane Roar and Free Land, I did not know they were written with her Ingalls grandparents and her father respectively as the inspiration behind these two stories. I am overjoyed to learn this much about my favorite family.
I am at a point where Laura's writing career is well underway. She has written and published Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, Farmer Boy, and On the Banks of Plum Creek. But the success of these novels is all attributed to Rose in Holtz's book. He gives Laura little, if no credit, in the writing of them. Where earlier Rose complained over the clogging details her mother included, now she says Laura has not included enough details.
It would be difficult to prove his point--Rose is the co-author of the Little House series--if he did not discredit Wilder in some way, but there is one comment that turned me off entirely.
Free Land--which was a great success for Rose, gained her fame and fortune like she had never known. It was an eight-installment series which ran in the Saturday Evening Post over a two-month period. The hero of this series, David Beaton, "pits his courage, skill, and endurance against the Dakota plains in the effort to make a farm for his wife and children." We already know that this story is based upon her father's life. During the writing of Free Land, Rose,who now lived in New York City, corresponded with her father, asking him all types of questions so that she could authenticate the narrative.
One page 281 of Holtz's book it states, "...Rose had gone to some lengths to avoid a facile optimism. Young David's early marriage, a cliche of romance, turns out to be a mistake of the heart, but one he resigns himself to live with." As a reader who already knows this is the life of Almanzo Wilder, this portion of the text infers Almanzo saw marrying Laura as a mistake.
If I had no prior knowledge of the Wilders this comment would have elicited no response--except perhaps pity. But I have been studying the Wilders and their families for years. Through Laura's own books as well as those written about her I have learned that while life was never easy for the Wilders, they stuck it out and eventually lived more comfortably. Farming life was hard, especially after Almanzo's stroke; they suffered the loss of a child, a home, and most of their personal belongings in the early years of their marriage. But this comment seems to add one more loss to all the hardships they endured together.
Perhaps it is the hopeless romantic in me which sees them as madly in love with each other or the glossed over version of their life which I watched as a child every Monday night on Michael Landon's Little House on the Prairie which clouds my judgment. All marriages weren't happy--even back then.
I've tossed it around in my head several times since reading this passage the other night and I can't get away from the feeling that this comment is only there to further substantiate the claims that Laura was not a very nice person. I felt it an unneccessary dig at an icon of children's literature whose abilities have continually been called into question by the author.
Yet still, I have to admire a piece of work which challenges me to think differently about a topic that I am familiar with. Not that I am ready to say I believe Holtz's claims that Rose should be credited as co-author of the Little House books. I am no closer to thinking that than I was when I first started. But I still have over 180 pages left to convince me. I have to admit I can't wait to sit down and read it every night so I can learn more about Rose and her writing career. I can relate to her bouts of insecurity and desire to write something more of substance than articles for Country Gentleman or editing her "mother's damn juvenille" as she often called it. And isn't that what all writers strive for--to keep their readers interested and get them to relate to their characters? I am willing to call Holtz's book a success from that perspective.
As many of you know, I deeply admire Wilder's writing and my bookshelves are lined with numerous titles by and about Wilder and her family. The Ghost in the Little House is controversial in that Holtz claims that Rose was the co-author of the now famous Little House series. I've forced myself to keep an open mind while reading it, because I doubt Holtz's claims. Being an editor, doesn't make you a co-author, in my mind.
The beginning was rough for me to get through because it painted a very different picture of Rose's parents than I was used to hearing. Everything I read up to that point spoke of how well liked Laura and Almanzo were. But these were the recollections of friends and neighbors, not the child who lived with them and who spent her adult life feeling like she was committed to taking care of her elderly parents.
I did manage to make it past that part of the timeline and move into Rose's travels, which I found very interesting. She had an amazing life from that perspective. But even in this, she was unhappy according to Holtz because she was forced to write articles to get cash, instead of working on something of substance. And, she always felt she must return to Mansfield, MO upon occasion to check on her parents.
I've now reached the point where Rose is living with friends in the old house at Rocky Ridge Farm. She had a new stone house built for her parents to live in and then she redecorated the old one to her tastes. By this time, Rose was in her early forties. The criticism of Laura begins again. Rose feels interrupted by her mother constantly. References to how harsh and selfish Laura was flow into the text. And once again, I find myself having a difficult time reading about my beloved author in this context.
I am a little over halfway through the book and I know I must read it until the end because I need to know how Holtz supports his idea that Rose should be credited as co-author. In the end, perhaps I will believe as he does. And I wonder what, if any, affect this will have on my opinion of Wilder's books and her abilities as an author. Will I end up regretting reading this book? Will I be thankful my eyes were opened?
I really can't say right now. But as I make it through to the end, I am determined to keep an open mind to the possibilites within.
In May 2006, I began reading The Ghost in the Little House by William Holtz. This is one of the few biographies of Rose Wilder Lane that I know exists and I put off reading it because the author contends that Rose should be credited as the co-author of the Little House series. What follows are my thoughts and comments as I read the book, which will cover multiple entries
I am only 60 pages into this nearly 400-page biography of what seems to be a complex and interesting character. As the reviews on the back suggest, Holtz's biography of Lane attempts to prove Rose Wilder Lane was the co-author of the famous Little House books along with her mother Laura Ingalls Wilder. My deep love for the Little House series and Wilder's other writings is what kept me from purchasing Holtz's book.
My intention is to keep an open mind as I read this book, but not even 100 pages into it, I am already struggling. Holtz has made the Wilders out to be less than adequate parents and Rose Wilder Lane is portrayed as a precocious child who understood things way beyond her years. Even the quotes by Rose which appear underneath each chapter's title are carefully selected to make Rose out to seem like the victim of her circumstances.
Chapter 1 - "I hated everything and everybody in my childhood..." Chapter 2 - "Influences: 1 - 16: no affection, poverty, inferiority" Chapter 4 - "The worst thing about life is the necessity of trying to do something with it."
There are non-derogatory quotes by Lane for other chapters, but none that I consider inspiring or uplifting. It seems Holtz felt sympathy would influence the reader, thus swaying her into believing Lane was the co-author of the Little House books along with her mother. Perhaps Lane did offer her mother more than editorial advice. I have 300 plus pages to figure it out.
My articles are featured on the Prairie Fans website. If you would like to check them out please go to Prairie Fans and click on the "Prairie Girl" tab on the left hand menu.
The first article, How to Get from Here to There in the 1800's has a tie in to the 1970's show Little House on the Prairie because it was originally written for Prairie Talk - a LHOP forum. The second, Following the Railroad: How the Iron Horse Changed the American Landscape talks of the Ingalls family settling into the Silver Lake Camp and how the Kansas-Nebraska Act helped pave the way for the Transcontinental Railroad. I also put together a list of slang words and everyday speech in the 1800's which appears on Prairie Fans as well.
I hope you get the opportunity to check out these articles and let me know what you think.