Saturday, May 9, 2015

Pioneer Girl: For All the Laura Ingalls Wilder Fans



Last week I picked up a gem of a book, at my local library. It is called Pioneer Girl, The
Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder






I had heard about this book published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press, and wanted to read it. It is a hefty one, nearly 10" x 11" and 400 pages long. I cannot renew it because it is on hold for another patron due to its' popularity. My plan is to read the introduction and other miscellaneous sections, which are fascinating, about the writing life of Wilder. I think in a few months I will check it out again and read the major work of the book.

The bulk of the book is the manuscript of Pioneer Girl the memoir Laura wrote, geared for adults, before she wrote any of the Little House juvenile books. Wilder never thought about writing juvenile fiction when she wrote her memoir. Her goal was to preserve and pass on the stories of her father. 

The manuscript is broken down into the various years and places her family lived when she was a child. I have read that there are parts of the memoir that made it into the book series, but many did not. There are also many black-and-white photos which will delight Laura's readers.

The introduction is an interesting read for any writer. It details through the diaries, mainly of Rose Wilder Lane, Laura's daughter, their relationship through the process of Rose mentoring her mother in writing the Little House books. 

For those of you who do not know, Rose was a very successful writer before any of Laura’s books were published. With Rose’s contacts in New York City she was able to assist her mother to find a publisher and also suggested that the memoir be written as juvenile fiction. It is interesting to read about the interaction, not always pleasant, between mother and daughter. These accounts are based mainly on Rose's diaries. Also, the backdrop, while trying to get the books published, was the Great Depression of the 1930s. 

A few years ago I was able to visit the last homestead of Laura Ingalls Wilder in Mansfield, Missouri, where she wrote this memoir and also the Little House juvenile fiction series. This was a plus for me as they referenced many of the places around the home, which I remember.


I think this is a must read and will be an enjoyable one for Wilder fans.





  

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