I was a BIG Little House fan — the books, much more than the show. I loved to hear about Laura’s adventures, her friends and enemies, her romance with Almanzo. I’ve “dug deeper” in the past and know that the books were, of course, a slightly rosy depiction of the truth. And, as any devotee of the literary series who’s gone far enough to read both “On the Way Home” and “West From Home” knows, Laura and Almanzo had a tough go of it, financially, for years.
Laura’s heretofore unpublished autobiography will be released this fall, and promises a more realistic and grittier view of frontier living — but one that is not completely unrecognizable different from what we already know. Think of it as the grown-up version of her Little House books — one she and her daughter tried to get published for years, in the 1930s, with no success.
Wilder details a scene from her childhood in Burr Oak, in which a neighbor of the Ingalls’ pours kerosene throughout his bedroom, sets it on fire and proceeds to drunkenly drag his wife around by her hair before Wilder’s father — Pa in the children’s books — intervenes.
Scenes like that make Wilder’s memoir sound like it’s filled with scandal and mature themes, “which isn’t exactly true either,” according to Amy Lauters, an associate professor of mass media at Minnesota State University-Mankato.
“It’s just that that first version was blunt, it was honest. It was full of the everyday sorts of things that we don’t care to think about when we think about history,” said Lauters, who has read the original manuscript and also is writing a book on Rose Wilder Lane.
Laura Ingalls Wilder penned one of the most beloved children’s series of the 20th century, but her forthcoming autobiography will show devoted “Little House on the Prairie” fans a more realistic, grittier view of frontier living.
“Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography” — Wilder’s unedited draft that was written for an adult audience and eventually served as the foundation for the popular series — is slated to be released by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press nationwide this fall.