Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder
Ink and watercolor on 9″ x 12″ watercolor paper
The latest addition to the ‘She Changed the World’ collection!

Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) was the writer of the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ series of children’s books, based on her childhood as an American pioneer and settler. Born to Charles and Caroline Ingalls, Laura’s early life saw the family bouncing around the Midwest between Kansas, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota. Her time in Wisconsin and Kansas as a youth served as the eventual basis for the ‘Little House’ books. In 1879 the family settled in De Smet, South Dakota where the Ingalls family would remain. In 1882 Laura started teaching in a one-room school. She didn’t particularly enjoy the work, but did it to help contribute financially to her family. Her teaching career ended two years later when she married Almanzo Wilder.

Laura’s daughter Rose Wilder was born in 1886, who would have a dramatic effect on Laura’s future in the years to come. Following a series of tragedies including Almanzo being partially paralyzed from illness, a series of fires that destroyed their farm, and severe drought led them to leave and ultimately settle in Mansfield, Missouri. There they bought a farm, first selling wood and later apples, then a fully diversified farm to protect their income.

In 1911 Laura began writing for the Missouri Ruralist as a columnist and editor. Laura’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane began pushing her to improve the quality of her writing towards the goal of national publication. Following their investments being wiped out by the 1929 Stock Market Crash, the need for additional income was paramount. With Lane as her editor, Laura’s first book was published in 1932 as ‘Little House in the Big Woods’ and was received as a huge success. The eight ‘Little House’ books were massively popular, restoring her financial security and making her a national celebrity. She spent the remainder of her life in her farm house, regularly visited by fans who wanted to meet her and discuss the books.

The ‘Little House’ books have served as an entry point to the love of reading for generations of children, particularly young girls who easily identified with the fictionalized ‘Laura’ character. The books later inspired the long-running ‘Little House on the Prairie’ television series starring Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon. All originating from a hard-working young woman who wanted to help others.