Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Laura Ingalls Wilder Has A New Book Out?

Hold that mail buggy! The woman who died in 1957 has a new book? Well, yes indeed, she does! That is, if "new" means previously unpublished.

The South Dakota Historical Society Press recently put out Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, Wilder's autobiography that has been languishing on some archive's shelf since the 1930s. Judging by the fact that the book has been sold out for weeks on Amazon, Wilder still captures the American imagination. If you're anything like me, you know all her books nearly by heart and consider them a formative component of your childhood and young adulthood. (Sidenote: I have lobbied unsuccessfully for years to name a dog Almanzo.) 

This armful of a book gives more information than you ever thought you wanted to know about Wilder's life and her progression as a writer. There has long been a rumor floating about that Wilder's daughter, the then-famous writer Rose Wilder Lane, actually did most of the writing in the Little House books. Pioneer Girl effectively disproves this notion, demonstrating that while Lane contributed significantly to the books' creation by acting as her mother's editor and primary sounding board, the work belongs to Wilder. Really, if anything, Lane can be accused of recycling her mother's stories in some of her successful novels (e.g., The Young Pioneers).

While the actual text of Pioneer Girl offers only a rough sketch of Wilder's youth (albeit with the inclusion of some very adult situations), the annotations fill in many gaps and round out the life in letters of one of our most beloved literary voices. Give it a shot, if you're able to carry it out of the library!

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