AbeBooks' Reading Copy

AbeBooks book blog

Advanced Search Browse Books Rare Books Textbooks
Advanced Search

Blood, violence and grit in real life Little House on the Prairie

Laura Ingalls Wilder‘s books about life as a pioneer girl have been enjoyed by children and parents for decades for their wholesome and entertaining tales about farm boy crushes and making syrup in the snow. The books are autobiographical, but as the LA Times reports, Wilder’s series sheltered young readers from the grittiness of the pioneer girl’s real life. In the 1920s Wilder wrote a true-to-life memoir that exposed real-life’s horrors, but it was deemed too violent and no one would publish it.

Nearly a century later, the University of South Dakota State Historical Society Press will release Wilder’s drafted memoir in September as Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. According to the LA Times, the memoir includes a sour love triangle, and a scene where a drunk man douses a room in kerosene, lights in on fire, then drags his wife through it by the hair. As a child I adored and devoured every book Wilder wrote. I doubt I’ve read any book since that I’ve loved as much as I loved hers. In part, I’m hesitant to read the memoir for fear it will spoil my innocent adoration for Pa and Laura and Almanzo, but I know I’ll devour it just as I did Little House in the Big Woods and every book that came after it. In the meantime, I’m lusting after these vintage books by Wilder.


Vintage Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Vintage edition of Little House on the Prairie with illustrations by Garth Williams, 1953

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

First edition of The Long Winter, 1940

By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Vintage copy of By the Shores of Silver Lake illustrated by Helen Sewell and Mildred Boyle, 1939

These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Vintage edition of These Happy Golden Years illustrated by Garth Williams, 1971

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

A vintage edition of Little House in the Big Woods, published without a dust jacket and illustrated by Helen Sewell, 1946

Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

First edition of Little Town on the Prairie, 1941

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email
Jessica Doyle

One Response to “Blood, violence and grit in real life Little House on the Prairie”

  1. As a family historian, I’ve read a number of accounts that were written by & about my husband’s & my, pioneer families. Life on the frontier was not like life in the towns & cities the pioneers left behind. Many people died of mishaps & accidents & illness’ for which there were no medicines on the frontier. My husband’s grandmother buried two little girls on the way west. The only medicines she had to ease their misery was sage brush tea. Many herbal remedies were used, including medicine made from “Love in the mist” plant & Yarrow, Mormon tea & Wllow bark. My husband’s great Uncle, (born in a covered wagon, coming West) lived to be 102. Strong healthy genetics helped a lot. The simple remedies the pioneers knew to & had available to them helped some. Lots of people died young. It wasn’t an easy life & sometimes there were some people who acted seriously antisocial. Watching movies & T.V. doesn’t give us the true picture of the Western frontier. I’m glad Laura Ingalls-Wilder wrote about the difficult side of pioneer life. That brings balance to the stories of the West. The frontier was hard, real & men married young women who were likely to survive the difficult frontier life. One of husband’s great Aunts was married at age 14. really Women died young in the West because life was hard on women. They worked very hard (& endlessly_ they birthed their children at home & died of childbed fever & excessive bleeding. Hubby had a great Aunt who came West as a bride (in a covered wagon.) She lived to be 99. When one man’s wife died, leaving a nursing baby, the man gave the infant to a lovely Hispanic neighbor who raised her nursing baby (a Hispanic child) with the man’s orphaned nursing baby (an Anglo child.) Those ladies were devoted sisters all their lives. There were: no antibiotics, no baby bottles, few ways to keep foods. no store bought milk, often no stores. No Dr.’s & no dentists (often) People died of pneumonia, abscessed teeth, scarlet fever, ulcers, measles, & the foods were simple & plain. It wasn’t a utopia but the people who went West were strong or they simply didn’t survive. The good old days were not that different from times of today. The good, the bad & the ugly all blended together, & somehow it all worked.