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Any Laura Ingalls Wilder fans?

(234 Posts)
moondog Sun 16-Sep-12 19:17:50

I visited the LIW house and museum in Missouri a few weeks ago and it was one of the most moving experiences ever. I made a detour of thousands of miles to see it.
If anyone loves her just as much as I do I wanted the chance to tell you about it so that you can savour every delicious detail.

redrubyshoes Sun 16-Sep-12 21:25:07

I will try to find the article I read about the feud between Laura and her mother.

The long and the short of it was her mother was a devoutly religious woman who was also deeply xenophobic and Laura and particurlary her daughter Rose were open minded and embraced all cultures.

Rose veered towards communism and was planning to live in Albania shortly before she died.

me too - massive fan!

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 16-Sep-12 21:27:54

I'd be really interested, ruby. I guess you can see that about Ma, she is always very racist about 'Indians' whereas some bits with Laura would make you cringe now, but basically you can tell she doesn't agree with her mother's views.

aJumpedUpPantryBoy Sun 16-Sep-12 21:28:53

Looking at the timescale Pa died in 1902 but Ma didn't die until 1924. That's a long time to fall out with no reconcilliation sad

MooncupGoddess Sun 16-Sep-12 21:31:03

I love them too. Started with Little House in the Big Woods when I was five so really grew up with Laura.

I have always been a bit disappointed when I've read about the real facts behind the stories, though - various liberties with the truth and the whole controversy about whether Laura or Rose was the primary author.

skyebluesapphire Sun 16-Sep-12 22:09:04

The books I have are West From Home and On The Way Home

One is Laura's diary about the trip to Missouri and the other is letters she wrote to Almanzo.

vesela Mon 17-Sep-12 10:39:04

Also loved them. I have LHITBW waiting for DD. (It's a pity, though, that the paperback version available now seems a bit stiff to handle compared to the ones I had). In the meantime I bought her a couple of the "picture book" versions (Summertime in the Big Woods, Winter Days in the Big Woods) and they're very good.

redrubyshoes - an interesting point about the differences in outlook between Laura and her mother. That may be why I hadn't remembered the books as particularly anti-Indian - I was looking through Laura's eyes rather than her mother's.

I thought Rose was a libertarian rather than a communist, though?

Whitamakafullo Mon 17-Sep-12 10:45:11

I've got a biography of Laura, I need to go and read it now. I love these books, I'm going to start reading them to my DD smile

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 17-Sep-12 10:45:11

mooncup - I know what you mean, but in a way I don't mind it. I can understand her not wanting to talk about her baby brother dying, for instance. I didn't understand why she says Mary goes blind from scarlet fever if it was really measles, though.

But on the authorship thing, though, I quite like the idea of two women collaborating on a book, when I don't think of it in sneery terms about 'ghostwriting' which you often see.

Takver Mon 17-Sep-12 13:28:54

Its interesting, I've never thought of the books as particularly anti-Indian either. I'm thinking for example in Little House on the Prairie where Ma expresses what I imagine were pretty typical racist views for the time, but Pa points out that the white settlers have been taking over the native people's land, for example, and are the wrong-doers themselves.

Whitamakafullo - is your biography good? I'd love to know the title if so.

Agree with LRD that a mother and daughter co-operating on a book should be celebrated rather than criticised.

InkleWinkle Mon 17-Sep-12 16:29:51

Moondog are you coming back to tell us about it? smile

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 17-Sep-12 16:38:46

Somebody put up a really interesting link on another thread, about how Rose had romanticised and Laura resisted but gave in - and Laura was much less nice and indeed less well-educated than you'd think from the books.

I always thought the Mary-Laura relationship was done in a very passive-aggressive sneaky kind of 'Brutus was an honourable man kind of way. There are lots of things like 'Mary was a good girl, and Pa had told them not to move, so when the bad Indians came and started trying to kill the dog, Mary sat still like a good girl and did not try to help the dog, but Laura could not sit and be a good girl while the dog was being killed, so she bravely but naughtily got up and saved the dog's life'.

I mean, not that, but like that.

TheApprentice Mon 17-Sep-12 16:49:02

I'm another fan who would be very interested to hear what Moondog has to say. I still remember getting Little House in the Big Woods in my Christmas stocking one year.

Yohoahoy Mon 17-Sep-12 16:54:27

ooh yes, big fan here - I even have the cookery book blush

I have always wanted to visit the museum so would love to hear about it smile

Bookbrain Mon 17-Sep-12 16:55:21

My fave bit is when Almanzo Wilder gives Laura his name card and not Nellie smile

And do you remember the house they move into when they get married? I still want a big pantry with little handmade drawers to keep my flour and sugar and salt and pepper in. Why did I marry a man who can't do woodwork? sigh

HumphreyCobbler Mon 17-Sep-12 17:04:36

I vividly remember Laura moving from the family house when she married Almanzo, and the cake tasting like sawdust in her mouth when she realised that it was for ever. Seemed such a momentous change. I felt more for Laura at that moment than I did when I left my own parents home for the last time.

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 17-Sep-12 17:11:06

Ohhh .... but that's the bits I love, theoriginal! grin I always liked that you knew Laura secretly thought she was being better and she didn't see why Mary got all the credit!

(Erm ... I am a middle child too ... grin blush)

About her education, though ... I always squirmed in sympathy when she was faced with a class and three out of five of them were older than her! Scary.

I am always slightly disappointed that in photos Almanzo is really, really not good looking (though I reckon from photos standards of what's pretty have changed quite a lot). I kinda secretly wanted her to marry Cap Garland and you get the sneaking suspicion she had a thing for him too.

Hullygully Mon 17-Sep-12 17:13:57

ooo ooo me too.

Chrestomanci Mon 17-Sep-12 17:31:51

this the article you were looking for?

<another slightly obsessed fan> I'm reading very gentle, comforting books at the moment as I'm Pg, but REALLY enjoying finding out about the lives of some of my favourite authors (although as they are largely very sad it does undo some of the good of the gentle books smile). It's enough to turn you into a raving feminist...

mignonette Mon 17-Sep-12 17:36:26

I have this cookbook -

I have always loved her writing and that of her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. My grandpa built me a trundle bed and my grandmother made me a 'pioneer' style dress, smock and sun hat which I practically lived in as an 8 year old. I can still recite huge chunks of the books from memory, such is the amount of re-reading both in childhood and adulthood.

I have several biographies of Laura and her family and was so upset when I read about Ma and Pa's little son who sadly died.

I'd love to hear everything OP!

Chrestomanci Mon 17-Sep-12 17:36:27

also v interesting

mignonette Mon 17-Sep-12 17:39:45

Sorry, here's that link again-

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 17:54:50

Oh how lovely that there are so many of you.
Gather around while I fix us some hot coffee and salt pork. grin

Ok, brief background is that I have always loved LIW and read her books over and over as a child and indeed an adult. A few years ago (thanks to MN conversation) I got more interested in her life as an adult and found out more about the numerous sites associated with here. The most important is argualby, the one that seems least important as it is the house she and Almanzo built and where she lived after the stories ended but it is here that she wrote the books and where all the important artefacts are kept.

This is where I went-Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield Missouri.

Over the years I have spent many summers in the Staes on sort of working holiday and this year we took the children for 6 weeks. Beforehand I read them all nine books (we finished the last the day before we flew) and as I read to them each night, even my dh crept in to listen and they were all as enchanted as I was. So when I told my dh that, instead of the beach hoilday we had planned, we would be going to Rocky Ridge farm, he happily agreed.

I can't beging to describe how amazing it was. It is just a little amateurish outfit run by elderly women, but that is what makes it so special. It has everything there you can imagine, Pa#'s fiddle, Mary's braille slates, the girls' quilts, the little jewellery box-cases and cases of lovely things. I began to cry as I went in (I am NOT that sort of person) and couldn't stop for half an hour. It was so overwhelming.

SheelaNeGoldGig Mon 17-Sep-12 18:00:23


I'd love to go someday.

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 18:01:22

<blows nose and carries on>

Every scrap of the house was built by Almanzo and it grew and grew as they prospered over the years. It is exactly as it was and the people running it told me upstairs is full to the brim of more stuff that they haven't room to exhibit. There will shortly be a new museum.

As many of you know, she began to write seriously only at a late age, with her daughter's encouragement. Rose was for a time, the seconf highest paid journalist in the States, and the sotry of how she nurtured her mother's talent, only to be eclipsed by it is extremely interesting and complex. As Rose grew wealthy, she built another fancy house near the old one for her parents and got them to move in, while she took over the farmhous. Then after 7 years she left and they moved straight back in!

Rose was a trailblazing feminist, whizzing aronud the place, hanging out in Albania and doing all sorts of stuff women didn't do in those days.
Many of the people at the house/museum knew her when they were children. I bought a sunbonnet there (which I wear after a G&T or two) and on my kitchen table I have some hickory nuts from the farm. It overwhelms me to see them there.

The museum folk don't like the book 'The Wilder Life' (it is on sale there) and told me they thoguht it made fun of them. I diasagreed with them and told them it was simply about people looking at her throguh a fresh light. I loved it. She reminded me of me, and reading it a few months ago made me decide to go and visit.

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