This May, the South Dakota Historical Society Press will publish Pioneer Girl Perspectives, a collection of illuminating essays on Laura Ingalls Wilder and her work. This volume builds upon Wilder’s previously published, bestselling memoir Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography with a wealth of contextual perspectives and is perfect for fans hoping to gain further insight into the conception of the much-loved Little House books.
Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) finished Pioneer Girl in 1930 when she was sixty-three years old. After several rejections from publishers, she drew upon her original manuscript to write the Little House books which continue to enthral readers today. Until the release of Pioneer Girl in 2014, the memoir had only been available at the Hoover Presidential Library (Iowa) as an unedited rough draft.
Initially, the press only expected the book to be successful within the academic community, but it quickly became a worldwide hit. Generations of Little House fans welcomed the release and took to bookshops in droves. The book received a lot of international press coverage, was featured on the New York Times bestseller list, sold translation rights, and had to be reprinted multiple times within the first few months of publication as demand was so high. The unexpected success of Pioneer Girl revealed a profound absence of material on the history of the Little House series. An absence that Wilders’ fans are clearly keen to have filled.
In Pioneer Girl Perspectives, Nancy Tystad Koupal has collected essays from noted scholars of Wilder’s life and work that explore the themes and genesis of Wilder’s writings. They shed new light on the story behind Wilder’s original manuscript and examines the ways in which the author and her daughter and editor, Rose Wilder Lane, worked to develop a marketable narrative. The contributors delve into the myths and realities of Wilder’s work to discover the real lives of frontier children, the influence of time and place on both Wilder and Lane, and the role of folklore in the Little House novels.
Together, the essays give readers a deeper understanding of how Wilder built and managed her story. Published over eighty years after its inception, Pioneer Girl gave readers new insight into the truth behind Wilder’s fiction. Pioneer Girl Perspectives further explores the importance of Wilder as an influential American author whose stories of growing up on the frontier remain relevant today.
For more information on Laura Ingalls Wilder, frontier life, and all things Pioneer Girl, check out The Pioneer Girl Project blog!