5 Things I Discovered About Laura Ingalls Wilder

BooksCareerOff Beat 8 Comments

By Cynthia Hornig – I have a confession…I did not watch Little House on the Prairie, nor did I read any of the Little House books. I just wasn’t into the pioneer thing and didn’t find it entertaining… at all. My admission seems to have left everyone in our office in a wake of wild bewilderment. This revelation was unveiled when the team brought to my attention that today is author and pioneer, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthday. So, I figured I would set aside my aversion to covered wagons and petticoats and learn more about this woman you should know.

5 Things I Discovered About Laura Ingalls Wilder


More than a pioneer of the land

Laura was the sole breadwinner of her family. She and her husband Almanzo made a down payment on a 40-acre place with $100 saved from Laura’s job as a seamstress. They named the homestead “Rocky Ridge Farm”, where Laura wrote the Little House book series.

Age is just a number

Laura was 65 years old when she wrote her first book, Little House In The Big Woods, which was based on stories told to her and her sisters by their “Pa”. She finished the last book in the series at the age of 76.

Failure fuels success

Going from seamstress to author was no easy feat. In the late 1920’s Laura was encouraged by her daughter Rose to write down the story of her childhood. She wrote an autobiography called Pioneer Girl, a first-person account of her time as a child on the frontier. Unfortunately, publishers and agents ultimately rejected the book for being too boring, but she persisted. Pioneer Girl became the foundation for the Little House series.

Critics shmitics

Little House in the Big Woods, which was called “juvenile” by critics, was the first volume of an American family saga that has since sold about sixty million copies and translated into thirty-three languages.

Inspiring generations

Our very own WYSKette Stella Ehrhart was reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” series when she was inspired to start her tradition of dressing up as famous women in history. The first woman Stella dressed-up as was Laura Ingalls Wilder.


What I have learned from my research is that Laura Ingalls Wilder was by and large a happy person, who loved her life. She understood hard work and hard times, which the memories of, she seamlessly wove into her cherished stories. So while I still have no interest in watching Little House on the Prairie, I am however inspired to read the books. I will end with this quote, which seems to perfectly sum up Laura’s approach to life…something we can all learn from.

“The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.”

Cynthia Hornig is Co-Founder and Editorial Director of Women You Should Know.

  • Leah

    You know, I was never much into the pioneer thing either, but I went to Cades Cove this past year and it really caused me to have so much respect for the women who had to make do with so little, who supported families and bore children in what could be considered very harsh circumstances. I own all the Little House books, but have never read them. Maybe I need to pick them up and dust them off!

  • Carol Sandberg

    I had a daughter who grew up loving the little house books and one who didn’t care at all. The one who loved them slept with them in her bed and read them over and over and over. We didn’t have a tv at the time, but the characters in those books spoke to her heart. When I read the one about Almonzo I could see the deprivation in Laura’s own childhood as she described the food he grew up on. To her, cooked pumpkin was a treat and having pie for breakfast was an unheard of treat.

  • Sheila Roberts

    My mother and sister at a very young age lived in Missouri, They went out one Sunday afternoon and paid a visit to Laura Ingalls Wilder. An unexpected pair of visitors that they were, She graciously ask them in and spent the afternoon chatting with them. She was such a tiny woman my mother related that her feet dangled above the floor as she sat with them.
    They spoke of the visit many times when I was growing up and introduced me to the books as well. This was long before the TV series. I read every one of the books and felt very much akin to the spirited woman. Never really thought about the dresses etc. Just her wonderful adventurous and loving nature.
    I too was born short and small. She gave me a figure of strength to admire and emulate as I grew up. I just wish that I had been alive to make that visit to her as well.

  • Nikjs

    Also, the book about the Long Winter was very tough going. The township almost, literally, died. Then when they got food, there was almost a massacre because the shopkeeper wanted to charge %300 on the prices to starving people. Let alone the fact that a native American came to warn them, against the inclination of others in his tribe. He came and warned the township, people who had taken land off his people, rather than letting them die.

  • Lisa Zahn

    I wouldn’t suggest watching the TV show either. It’s SO way off from her real life stories (which are themselves fictionalized of course). Read the books. You won’t be sorry you did.

    • Libby B.

      Definitely skip the TV show. It bears little resemblance to Laura, her books, or her life.

  • Cait McKnelly

    Her daughter, Rose, was a pretty remarkable woman in and of herself. She’s called the “mother” of the Libertarian movement. Much of LIW’s success was due to Rose, who edited her mother’s books to the point where she, in truth, collaborated on and co-wrote them.

  • Pingback: Buzz Worthy News: Feb. 13, 2017 | Cuddlebuggery Book Blog()