Almost six decades after her death, the autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder is set to be released for publication. The famed author of the seminal Little House on the Prairie books, Wilder was known for her captivating description of life on the prairie as a pioneer in America.
In the new book, which was only recently discovered, Wilder gives readers a more intimate and unvarnished perspective on life on the frontier, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The new book, which is entitled Prairie Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, will be published nationwide by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press, and will be available in book stores and from the Historical Society. The book was penned in the days before the Little House on the Prairie series came to be, but Laura couldn’t manage to get it published.
Some of the vignettes depicted by Wilder in the new autobiography included more sensitive and scandalous subjects such as domestic abuse, love triangles that went wrong, and at least one story about a drunk man who lit himself on fire.
So, there it sat for decades until now, often providing inspiration for the more family-friendly books that Wilder would later write.
Edited by Pamela Smith Hill, the new Laura Ingalls Wilder book is annotated and features a number of images, maps that illustrate the harsh reality of frontier living, and appendices. Early reviews describe it as a captivating window into the life of a well-known American.
Music Times reports that the more realistic depiction of the Ingalls family and their harrowing journey that took them through frontier territory of Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and eventually Dakota Territory. Many of the people Laura met along the way during her family’s 16 years of journeys became inspiration for fictional characters that she would later write about in her books.
The South Dakota State Historical Society Press told the Music Times that book editor Hill used letters, pictures, newspapers, manuscripts, and other material to create more context to the book.
“Do you think you know Laura? ‘Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography’ will re-introduce you to the woman who defined the pioneer experience for millions.”
In the days that Little House on the Prairie was marketed, it was aimed at children but became beloved among Americans and people of all ages around the world. A TV show inspired by the books ran from 1974 to 1983. Laura Ingalls Wilder eventually married and passed away about 57 years ago.