I never watched “Little House on the Prairie” on television, nor did I read any of the Little House books on which the series was based. But when Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiography was published two years ago, I vowed to read it. Written in longhand on seven Big Chief tablets around 1930 at the age of 63, she recounts her family’s amazing lives in Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Dakotas in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. More memoir than autobiography, she shapes their experiences as she remembers, not always reflecting the facts.
Her father was the embodiment of American frontier lust for property, and he kept on the move most of his adult life, homesteading in many locations and working to feed the family. They survived, barely at times. But there is nary a discouraging word from the writer. It is a tale full of wonderful characters, lived in amazing times. I loved every word.
Most effective is the layout of the 370 large format pages. The original narrative fills the center with all the “footnotes” directly in line with the text rather than at the bottom of the page or in the back. Your reading is constantly informed not only with photos and maps but with the research on all the places, characters and historical events. The “Little House” books were written after the autobiography, and the notes show which sections were used as parts of which books.
Highly recommended for anyone who is a student of American frontier history and for those who are fans of the books and the television series.