Laura Ingalls Wilder Trivia and Fun Facts

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Today marks the 63rd anniversary of the death of Laura Ingalls Wilder and in her honor I thought I’d share a bit of trivia about her life and accomplishments.

 

  • Laura was 65 when the first of her Little House books, Little House in the Big Woods, was published. It was 11 years later, when she was 76, that the 8th and final book in the series was published.
  • Laura received her teaching certificate at age 15 and taught in one room schoolhouses until she married Almanzo Wilder at age 18.
  • The Little House books were not her first paid writing accomplishments. At age 42 she went to work for the St. Louis Farmer as their poultry columnist. She eventually went on to write columns for the Missouri Ruralist, McCall’s Magazine and The Country Gentleman. In order to give her writing more credibility with male readers, her columns were published under the name A.J.Wilder.

 

 

  • As a young child, she lived through a devastating invasion of over 3.5 TRILLION locusts. It was one of the worst natural disasters the country had ever faced to that date, causing an estimated $116 billion worth of damage and causing near starvation for many settlers,, including her own family. The culprits, the Rocky Mountain locusts went extinct about 1902, though no one knows the reason why.
  • Laura had some interesting leaves on her family tree. One ancestor, Martha Ingalls Allen Carrier, was hanged as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials.  She was also related to Franklin Delano Roosevelt through her great grandmother, Margaret Delano Ingalls.

 

  • She was once told that writing for children was a waste of time. I’m so glad she ignored that advice! Her Little House books have remained in print continuously since the 1930s and the series has sold over 60 million copies and have been published in 26 languages.
  • Laura received lots of fan mail over the course of her writing life. After her Little House series took off she averaged about 50 pieces of mail per day. In fact, on her last birthday she received over 1000 bits of correspondence.
  • The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award was established in 1954 by the American Library Association. Its purpose was to honor authors and illustrators whose children’s books have made a major impact on children’s literature. Laura was, of course, the first recipient. Since then, other recipients have included Theodor Geisal (Dr. Seuss), Maurice Sendak and Beverly Cleary. However, the organization announced in June 2018 that it planned to change the name of the award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award due to the way Laura portrayed Native Americans in her books. In their statement the organization added this caveat: “Changing the name of the award, or ending the award and establishing a new award, does not prohibit access to Wilder’s works or suppress discussion about them. Neither option asks or demands that anyone stop reading Wilder’s books, talking about them, or making them available to children.”

  • Prior to the establishment of her namesake award, Laura had already won Newberry Honors on four of her Little House books.
  • A fun little bit of Laura Ingalls Wilder trivia – In the summer of 2017, Laura (in her young pig-tailed girl persona) was sculpted in butter at the Iowa State Fair in honor of the 150th anniversary of her birth.
  • Laura died on February 10, 1957, just 3 day after her 90th birthday. She was survived by her daughter and only child, Rose. Rose never had any children of her own, but Roger MacBride whom she met when he was a teenager and who later became her lawyer and literary agent, became her heir. He inherited an estate  that has a present day value of over $100 million and was responsible for licensing the television rights to the Little House books.

So there you have it, some interesting tidbits from the life of one of the most beloved of children authors. Were any of these new to you? Do you have some fun facts of your own to add? Have you read the books yourself?  

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for your choice of any book from my backlist.

 

Winnie Griggs
Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.

53 Comments

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  1. Thank you for sharing information about Laura Ingalls Wilder. She is one of my heroines.

    Thank you for an opportunity to enter the contest.

  2. Hi Lorraine, thanks for stopping by

  3. Thank you for all the information. I didn’t realize she d was 65 when her first Little House book was published.

    1. Hi Carol. It shows that it’s never too late to follow your dreams doesn’t it 🙂

    2. Avatar

      I loved The Little House on the Prairie books as a child. I think we still have the series around her somewhere. I loved watching the series on tv too. Now I have to recall how she depicted Indians because I’m at a loss this morning. Thanks for sharing all this information about her! I always try to picture her because she wasn’t even 5 foot!

      1. Hi Stephanie. You’re quite welcome. That little tidbit about her namesake award surprised me too.

    3. Thank you for sharing Winnie. I found it very interesting she was 75 when her first Little House book. I love trivia!

      1. Hi Charlene. Actually she was 65, but that is still an awesome accomplishment!

  4. I have Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Biography.

    I’ve read all of her books multiple times.

    I grew up watching the television show based on her books.

    1. Hi Denise. That’s one I don’t have – I might need to look for it. And I loved the television series too.

  5. Started reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and couldn’t wait to read the next book in the series.

    1. Hi Estella. And that’s the mark of a great writer!

  6. Thank you for sharing your wonderful post. One vacation we visited Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home. Touring her home and visiting her burial site plus a wonderful museum, we learned many great facts.

    1. Hi Melanie. That sounds wonderful! I love on-site research like that.

  7. Thanks for sharing. I don’t think I ever read the books but I watch all of the TV shows. I loved them.

    1. Hello Quilt Lady. Wasn’t the TV show wonderful! All of the characters and script writers did a great job. No wonder it ran for 9 years.

  8. I read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a child. Everything I know about pioneer life mostly came from those books. I did not know she was related to FDR.

    1. Hi Sandy! I learned quite a few things as I researched her life for this post and that was one of them. Also that she was related to one of the “witches” persecuted at the Salem witch trials

  9. I just love Laura Ingalls Wilder! Our whole family does! In fact, my daughter’s neighbor used to live next door to the Wilders while they were in DeSmet (the neighbor is in his 90s). The neighbor’s mother got some chives (the herb) from the Wilders, and she gave some to him, who gave some to my daughter, who gave some to ME! So I have Wilder chives growing in my garden at this very moment!

    Great blog, Winnie!

    1. Wow Pam, that is so cool! How wonderful to have a personal connection, even if somewhat removed

    2. Pam, you have chives from Laura Ingalls Wilder? How do I not know this about you!!??

      1. I know, right, Mary? I’d be happy to share with you if I’D EVER GET TO SEE YOU!!!

  10. wow what a wonderful full of information blog – read the books as a child and loved the TV series!!

    1. Hello Teresa. I think quite a few of us feel a connection to the books and characters. Glad you enjoyed the post

  11. Definitely learned some new info today! Thanks for sharing it!

    1. You’re quite welcome Colleen, glad you enjoyed it!

  12. I love Laura’s books and her wisdom I was thrilled when a friend gave me a collector’s set of her books a few years ago. Thanks for sharing this with us, Winnie!

    1. Hi Shanna. Yes, her wisdom comes shining through, doesn’t it. In fact I had difficulty selecting just three of her quotes to highlight here

  13. Thank for sharing these wonderful facts about Laura. So cool. I used to love to read her books and watch the tv series.

    1. Hi Lori. Glad you enjoyed the post. It seems a lot of us grew up with those stories.

  14. One of my favorite tidbits about Laura Ingalls Wilder is that she came west on a covered wagon and died the same year Sputnik launched into space.
    That was the life she spanned. Wagon trains to space travel.

    Outhouses and hand dug wells to hot and cold running water and indoor plumbing.
    She witnessed it all. And chose to write about the old not the new.

    I’m a huge fan of her books and have read them all, aloud to my own kids, countless times.

    1. Wow Mary, that is amazing when you put it in perspective like that

  15. I love the Laura books. I have visited several of her homes. DeSmit, SD and Mansfield, MO. Loved watching the TV series while growing up.

    1. So cool! I’d love to visit some of those some day

    2. Apple Blossom, I have always wanted to visit her home in DeSmet. I dont’ live that far away oh, hours, but still, not THAT far. But I just never have gotten there

      1. I just checked. 3.5 hours. NO wonder I never get there!!!

  16. Always loved Little House on the Prairie thanks for the History lesson

  17. You’re quite welcome Glenda. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  18. I didn’t know Laura was related to FDR. We read all the Little House series to our children twice, and loved them.

    I do remember reading that her mother had a boy baby at one point, but he died.

    1. Hi Roberta. Yes, it’s true that Laura had a baby brother that died sometime during his first year. And if I remember my research correctly, Laura and Almanzo also had a baby boy before Rose was born who only lived a few days.

  19. I knew some of the trivia but I didn’t know all of it. Thanks so much for sharing it. I’ve grown up with her in a way with her books and the show.

    1. You’re quite welcome Abigail. Glad I was able to teach you something today 🙂

  20. Wow, I didn’t know all of this, just some! That’s a lot of money, too!

    1. LOL Trudy, it is definitely a LOT of money! So glad you enjoyed the post and learned some new things

  21. Thanks for a fun and informative post. I am sorry they changed the name of the award but if they are the ones who started it then I guess they can change the name any time they wish, it does however make me think less of them.

    I have learned a lot, over the years, from the Little House books. She inspired me to teach my daughters to sew, cook, make cheese, bread, soap, and spin wool into yarn so we would feel a little better prepared to take care of ourselves. Her books taught me that all mothers are working women even if they do their work at home.

    1. Wow Lucinda, what a great education and legacy you’ve given your daughters. And I’m really impressed that you were able to actually do so many of those things

      1. Winnie, I had better luck at learning to do those things than at teaching my daughters to do them. At least they saw them done and realized that it was possible and now they know if they ever really want to learn those things I can help them. Meanwhile, they have plenty of soap and yarn. I wish I’d managed to make a cheese that I really liked.

        1. Still, you provided an awesome example for them. Good for you!

  22. I had no idea she wrote her books so late in life. I am so glad she ignored the advice that writing children’s books was a waste of time. I have the complete set of her books in our “children’s room” upstairs. I would love for our granddaughter to read them, but I am afraid she will think they are too girlie. I will try next time they are here for a visit.

    1. Hi Patricia. The wonderful things about her books is that they never go out of style or get dated. Hopefully you can get your granddaughter interested in them.

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