Prairie Fires The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Author(s): Caroline Fraser

Biography

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

The first comprehensive historical biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the Little House on the Prairie books

Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls--the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains, and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true saga of her life has never been fully told. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser--the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series--masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder's biography. Revealing the grown-up story behind the most influential childhood epic of pioneer life, she also chronicles Wilder's tumultuous relationship with her journalist daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, setting the record straight regarding charges of ghostwriting that have swirled around the books.

The Little House books, for all the hardships they describe, are paeans to the pioneer spirit, portraying it as triumphant against all odds. But Wilder's real life was harder and grittier than that, a story of relentless struggle, rootlessness, and poverty. It was only in her sixties, after losing nearly everything in the Great Depression, that she turned to children's books, recasting her hardscrabble childhood as a celebratory vision of homesteading--and achieving fame and fortune in the process, in one of the most astonishing rags-to-riches episodes in American letters.

Spanning nearly a century of epochal change, from the Indian Wars to the Dust Bowl, Wilder's dramatic life provides a unique perspective on American history and our national mythology of self-reliance. With fresh insights and new discoveries, Prairie Fires reveals the complex woman whose classic stories grip us to this day.

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Tells a story that is far more intriguing than the myth * Oldie * Fraser's gripping account is much more than a biography. Hugely recommended, even if you haven't read Wilder -- Claire Lowdon * Sunday Times * A fantastic book. We've long understood the Little House series to be a great American story, but Caroline Fraser brings it unprecedented new context, as she masterfully chronicles the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family alongside the complicated history of our nation. Prairie Fires represents a significant milestone in our understanding of Wilder's life, work, and legacy -- Wendy McClure, author of The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie In the twenty-first century, the tense and secret authorial partnership between Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane has emerged as the most complex and fascinating psychological saga of mother-daughter collaboration in American literary history. Caroline Fraser's deeply researched and stimulating biography analyzes their controversial relationship and places Wilder's influential fiction in the contexts of other myths of pioneer women and the frontier -- Elaine Showalter, author of A Jury of Her Peers and The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe Engrossing... Exhilarating... Lovers of the series will delight in learning about real-life counterparts to classic fictional episodes, but, as Fraser emphasizes, the true story was often much harsher. Meticulously tracing the Ingalls and Wilder families' experiences through public records and private documents, Fraser discovers failed farm ventures and constant money problems, as well as natural disasters even more terrifying and devastating in real life than in Wilder's writing * Publishers Weekly * Unforgettable... A magisterial biography, which surely must be called definitive. Richly documented (it contains 85 pages of notes), it is a compelling, beautifully written story.... One of the more interesting aspects of this wonderfully insightful book is its delineation of the fraught relationship between Wilder and her deeply disturbed, often suicidal daughter. But it is its marriage of biography and history - the latter providing such a rich context for the life - that is one of the great strengths of this indispensable book * Booklist, starred review * Fraser's meticulous, smart, historically informed biography shows where the books hew to - and diverge from - the facts of Wilder's long and eventful life...Fraser got a head start on her work for this biography when she edited the Library of America editions of Laura Ingalls Wilder's writing. Even readers who have already enjoyed those annotated volumes will find a trove of new material in Prairie Fires, which puts the books in a richer, more complicated context without undermining their value. Fraser concludes, "They are not, as Wilder and her daughter had claimed, true in every particular. Yet the truth about our history is in them. ...Anyone who would ask where we came from and why, must reckon with them * Sarah Harrison Smith, the Amazon Book Review, An Amazon Best Book of November 2017 * The definitive biography...Magisterial and eloquent...A rich, provocative portrait * Star Tribune * An absorbing new biography [that] deserves recognition as an essential text.... For anyone who has drifted into thinking of Wilder's 'Little House' books as relics of a distant and irrelevant past, reading Prairie Fires will provide a lasting cure.... Meanwhile, 'Little House' devotees will appreciate the extraordinary care and energy Fraser devotes to uncovering the details of a life that has been expertly veiled by myth -- Patricia Nelson Limerick * New York Times Book Review * The sweep of the story is magnificent -- Laura Freeman * The Times * [This new biography is] just as gripping as the original novels . . . As pacy and vivid as one of Wilder's own narratives, this surprising biography is immensely revealing both about Wilder and about America's founding myths -- Eleanor Mills * Sunday Times *

Caroline Fraser is the editor of the Library of America edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books, and the author of Rewilding the World and God's Perfect Child. Her writing has appeared in the New York Review of Books, New Yorker, Atlantic, Los Angeles Times and London Review of Books, among other publications. She lives in New Mexico.

General Fields

  • : 9780708898697
  • : Little, Brown Book Group Limited
  • : Sphere
  • : 0.3
  • : November 2017
  • : 242mm X 162mm X 44mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : March 2018
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Caroline Fraser
  • : Hardback
  • : 1
  • : 813.52
  • : 480
  • : two 16pp plates section