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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

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Jessica Doyle

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