Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Wilder, Laura (Elizabeth) Ingalls (1867–1957)
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US children's novelist and pioneer. Her ‘Little House’ series, beginning with Little House in the Big Woods (1932), vividly describe her homesteading childhood and the life of the American West. Sequels include the classic Little House on the Prairie (1935). Wilder's family farmed in a number of states, and their experiences, adventures, and problems, including blizzards and destructive grasshoppers, are evocatively pictured in her work. The stories were televised in the 1950s, bringing them an international audience.

Born in Pepin, Wisconsin, Wilder moved soon afterwards to Missouri, and then to Kansas, where her father took up land under the Homestead Act (1862). The family returned to Wisconsin in 1870, where they had relatives, but Wilder's father still longed to be out west. In 1874, they went to Minnesota, then moved to Iowa, before finally settling in Dakota Territory. Wilder taught in the Dakota Territory (1882–85) and married Almanzo Wilder in 1885; they farmed in De Smet, South Dakota, until 1894, then moved to Mansfield, Missouri.

Wilder started writing articles for a variety of magazines, including the Missouri Realist, drawing on the pioneering experiences of both her own and her husband's family. Her daughter Rose suggested that she write her autobiography in 1930, and helped her to find a publisher for the first book. Its instant success encouraged Wilder to develop her memories into a classic series that continues to remain popular.

Others in the ‘Little House’ series include By the Shores of Lake Silver (1939), Little Town on the Prairie (1941), and Those Happy Golden Years (1943). By the end of the series, Wilder is married and a mother herself.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles


Full text Article Wilder, Laura Ingalls
Continuum Encyclopedia of Children's Literature

The Little House SERIES consists of eight books written by W. with some assistance from her daughter, Rose: Little House...

Full text Article Wilder, Laura Ingalls (1867 - 1957)
The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English

The daughter of a farmer, she was over 60 before she began to write stories remembered from her pioneering childhood. ...

See more from Credo