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Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Gritty” Memoir Will Be Out This Fall, Sounds Historically Accurate And Deeply Upsetting

While we're being real, those Boxcar Children...are they okay?


The Little House On The Prairie books have inspired a beloved television series, a musical, and my own unshakable belief that I’d be much happier living in a log cabin with Ma, Pa, Mary, and Laura. But book lovers may have to reassess some of their associations with the series: after decades of delays, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s memoir will be finally be published on November 15th, and it sounds horrifying.

Amy Lauters, an associate professor of mass media at Minnesota State, explained to the Christian Science Monitor what Pioneer Girl has in store, saying the book is

full of the everyday sorts of things that we don’t care to think about when we think about history […] And it’s certainly not the fantasized version we saw on Little House on the Prairie the television show.

Pioneer Girl is reportedly so upsetting that Wilder couldn’t find a market for the memoir during her lifetime, instead using a censored version of her experiences to write the Little House series. The Christian Science Monitor describes some of the (horrifying) true events that will be featured in the autobiography:

The primary source includes scenes and characters that never appeared in the children’s book series. One notable group of characters presented to the public for the first time is the Masters family, who stayed with the Ingalls during the winter of 1880-1881 (the same winter featured in Wilder’s “The Long Winter”)[…] they are not portrayed flatteringly in “Pioneer Girl.” Also featured in the book are love triangles, domestic abuse, and even a drunk man who manages to set himself on fire.

If you’d like to learn more about the strange road with which Wilder’s memoir has come into posthumous publication to spoil our romantic delusions, The Pioneer Girl Project blog is an interesting read. To be clear, I’m happier than a bug in mud (that’s a prairie thing, right?) that the world is getting another book from Wilder—she obviously thought Pioneer Girl was an important story to tell, and there’s no shortage of romanticized Westerns glorifying white settlers. I’m just going to need a stiff drink throughout.

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