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Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Biography

Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Biography

4.2 9
by William Anderson

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The authoritative expert of the Little House series 'chronicles the life of author Wilder in a readable biography that is easily accessible to [readers of] the Little House books. Particularly interesting are the sections that fill in the gaps in Wilder's stories'including the time spent in Burr Oak, Iowa, and the years following her marriage to Almanzo Wilder.' 'BL.


The authoritative expert of the Little House series 'chronicles the life of author Wilder in a readable biography that is easily accessible to [readers of] the Little House books. Particularly interesting are the sections that fill in the gaps in Wilder's stories'including the time spent in Burr Oak, Iowa, and the years following her marriage to Almanzo Wilder.' 'BL.

1990 Washington Post/Children's Book Guild Award for Nonfiction

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Mary Rowen
This is a wonderfully researched account of the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It provides numerous details and background information that will help readers understand the stories that she has written. The photographs add a further dimension to this biography. A must, especially for those familiar with the Little House books.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Little House Series
Product dimensions:
5.15(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.57(d)
1000L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

A Pioneer Family

When Laura Ingalls was born in the woods in the state of Wisconsin, the land there was still raw and wild. The region was called "The Big Woods" because the forests stretched out for miles toward the bluffs of the Mississippi River to the west and on to Lake Superior to the north. Panthers and bears and deer roamed through the brush, and the big trees grew thick enough to blot out the sky overhead. Only the coming of a few trappers, hunters and farmers made the countryside seem slightly civilized. Still, miles often separated one frontier farm from the next.

Laura's parents, Charles and Caroline Ingalls, were Wisconsin pioneers. Her father, Charles Philip Ingalls, was born near Cuba, New York, in 1836. His boyhood was spent with a big family of eight brothers and sisters moving west with their parents, Lansford and Laura Ingalls. When Charles was nine, the family lived in the state of Illinois, just west of a growing frontier town called Chicago. Then they traveled north into Wisconsin, settling close to the Oconomowoc River, near the village of Concord.

Working with his father and his brothers on their family farm, Charles grew strong and straight and keen in the ways of the woods. He learned to be a shrewd frontiersman, meeting new difficulties and hardships with spirit and skill. Making the new land produce enough food for the Ingalls family was a challenge that Charles, his brothers and their father conquered together. When work was slack on their own place, the Ingalls boys worked for other farmers. They brought home the money they earned, to help buy shoes and schoolbooks for the younger brothers andsisters. Peter and Charles were the oldest; then came Lydia, Polly, Lansford James, Laura Ladocia, Hiram, George and Ruby.

For Charles Ingalls, attending the neighborhood schools was possible only when he could be spared from farm work. But he quickly realized the importance of reading and writing and all knowledge. He learned to write his name, Charles P. Ingalls, with a flourish, and he became a good speller. His family were all good storytellers, but Charles also liked to read. When he was seventeen, a hard-earned $1.25 left his pocket to buy a scroll-covered two-volume set of books called The Life of Napoleon.

Growing up in the Wisconsin woods along the Oconomowoc River, Charles not only learned to be a skilled carpenter, trapper, woodsman, hunter and farmer. He also learned to sing and dance and play songs and hymns on a honey-colored fiddle. No one in the family remembered how Charles Ingalls first acquired a violin; perhaps he bought it from a traveling peddler or traded for it with a neighbor. By the time he was a teenager, Charles and his fiddle had started a lifetime of making music together.

The Ingalls family sat around the fireplace through long winter evenings listening to the music Charles fiddled, and soon the neighbors knew where they could find rollicking, foot-tapping tunes. Charles Ingalls was so jolly and so bold a fiddler he was a popular addition to the neighborhood frolics. The Ingalls children attended spelling schools, hot-maple-sugar parties, sleigh rides and corn-husking socials. But the dances were the most exciting events of all.

At harvest parties or wedding dances or house buildings, Charles Ingalls was an important guest. With other fiddlers and banjo players, or alone on his own violin, he'd play "The Irish Washerwoman," "Buffalo Gals," "The Money Musk" or "Sweet Betsy from Pike" for the dancers. At one of the parties, the snow fell so thickly in the Wisconsin woods that the guests could not leave for home. They didn't mind; they simply kept the fires burning and the candles lit and danced all night to the sound of Charles' fiddle.

On the other side of the Oconomowoc River from the Ingalls farm lived a family of Quiners and Holbrooks. The Ingalls and the Quiner children all became friends while they were growing up. Like the Ingallses, the Quiners came from the east. They had been among the first pioneer families to settle in the vicinity of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The parents, Henry and Charlotte Quiner, had married in New Haven, Connecticut, in 183 1, but they had lived in Ohio and Indiana before they settled in the Wisconsin woods. When their daughter Caroline was born on December 12, 1839, some said she was the first non-Indian baby born in the Milwaukee area.

In addition to Caroline, there were two Quiner boys, Joseph and Henry, and a sister named Martha. Later, Eliza and Thomas were born. Father Quiner did a lively business as a trader with the many Indians who still lived in the Wisconsin woods. The Indians often ventured into the settlement, to see what traders like Henry Quiner would give them for their animal skins and furs.

During the autumn of 1844, Father Quiner left home on a trading trip by sailing schooner on Lake Michigan. As the ship neared the Mackinac Straits, a violent lake storm blew up. Ship, crew and passengers were lost in the cold waters, including Father Quiner. Caroline was five that fall, but she always remembered the wagonload of relatives who came to tell her mother and brothers and sisters that their father was not coming home.

Without a father, life for the Quiners became bleak and sparse. Some friendly Indians helped feed the family through the first lonely winter; they remembered their fair trades with Henry Quiner. But food and fuel were often nearly gone. Once, flour for bread making ran out, and there was no money to buy more. The Quiners never forgot the generous man headed for Milwaukee who left a whole barrel of the flour for the hungry family of seven.

Laura Ingalls Wilder. Copyright � by William Anderson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

William Anderson is an award-winning historian and author whose interest in the “Little House” books began in elementary school. Much of his research for this book was conducted on-site at the locales of the Ingalls and Wilder homes. He has been active in the preservation and operation of the Wilder sites in De Smet, South Dakota, and Mansfield, Missouri, and edits the newsletter, Laura Ingalls Wilder Lore.

Among Mr. Anderson’s other writings about the people and places of the “Little House” books are LAURA INGALLS WILDER COUNTRY, A LITTLE HOUSE SAMPLER, PRAIRIE GIRL, and LAURA’S ALBUM.

William Anderson currently lives and teaches in Michigan. You can visit him online at www.williamandersonbooks.com.

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Laura Ingalls Wilder (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
good book lots of new info I didn't know, the pictures were suprisingly intersting would reccomend this book to any little house fan.
kimistry More than 1 year ago
After finishing the "Little House" book series once more (I have read them several times), I decided to purchase this and know more about the background and future of Laura and her family. This book helped fill in the gaps and give closure to where the books left off. I highly recommend it to those who want to know a little more. It was written by a friend of the family and gives a new perspective on the Ingalls and Wilder families' saga. It could possibly interest very inquisitive older children, but I found it more insightful to read it as an adult.
LillyLS More than 1 year ago
The book Laura Ingalls Wilder ~ A Biography by William Anderson is a book about the famous author Laura Ingalls Wilder and her life. This is a story about Laura's whole life, even about the parts that she doesn't tell about in her own Little House books. It starts with information about her own parents and how they met and started their family, it then tells about all of her family's adventures and struggles moving to the west. Then you learn a little about a boy named Almanzo, and how that certain boy met a certain girl named Lauren and about their lives together with their daughter Rose. This book not only lets you re-visit the Little House books you loved as a child, but also gives you a 'back stage pass' to what really went on in the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder! This book is about the love and faith you have for your family, the bravery and struggles of the pioneer life and good old fashioned values. I have loved the Little House books since before I can remember and this book helped me understand and appreciate them, even more! It lets you get to know and see Laura and her family and friends in a whole way! In my opinion for Little House and history fanatics, this book is absolutely perfect! The only complaint I have is about the format of the book, all of the pictures are in the middle of the book and not next to the parts where it talks about the pictures so it kind of threw me off a bit. I think that if you are someone who loved Laura's Little House books this is the perfect book for you! It goes into more depth of the actual history of the stories. You may not want to read it if you have little or no knowledge about the Little House books, but even if you don't Anderson does a good job at explaining things and it is a good educational and entraining book for everyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has so much info. i got all the info i needed for my biography project
Guest More than 1 year ago
u should read this book even if u never heard of the show or other books
Guest More than 1 year ago
My favorite character is Laura because it tells like when she was born and who she was married to that was Almanzo Wilder. When her husband died that was 1949 and when she died. I liked the time my character Helped her sister Mary know what it looked like around them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a great book, and i highly reccomend it to young people who like that time period.