Laura Ingalls Wilder was an author and educator. She wrote all of the famous “Little House” books that tell tales of her childhood. Wilder’s family, just like every family, had their tragedies and triumphs. But it’s clear throughout her books that Wilder loved her family all the same.
Wilder was born on February 7, 1867 in Pepin, Wisconsin. She had four siblings: her older sister Mary, her younger sisters Carrie and Grace, and her younger brother Charles Ingalls Jr., who sadly died when he was only nine months old.
While growing up, Wilder moved often. When she was two, her family re-settled in Kansas, which would later be the setting of Little House on the Prairie, the first book in her “Little House” series. Then, the Ingalls moved back to Wisconsin after a couple of years. Their home in Wisconsin ultimately became the setting for Little House in the Big Woods. This would not be the last time the Ingalls family moved. In fact, they remained on the move for most of Wilder’s childhood.
Wilder’s sister Mary eventually caught scarlet fever. She went blind as a result. After that, the Ingalls left their home in Walnut Grove, Minnesota so that Mary could attend an all-blind school. However, they soon returned to Walnut Grove. An entire novel in the “Little House” series is dedicated to this tragedy and its fallout.
Wilder got a job as a school teacher when she was just 15 years old. For her, this was the first of many teaching jobs. Because the school where she taught was 12 miles away from her parents’ house, Wilder was often picked up by a family friend named Almanzo Wilder for weekend visits with her family. As Wilder’s name suggest, Almanzo quickly became a big part of her life.
After all the time they spent riding home together in a sleigh, Wilder and Almanzo fell in love and soon got married. In the winter of 1886, the happy couple had a daughter named Rose. Three years later, they had a son. Sadly, he died only a month after his birth.
Once in adulthood, Rose got a job working for the San Francisco Bulletin. She shared her mother's love and talent for the written word. It was Rose who convinced her mother to write about her life.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was more than a story character, even though she did write about her life with herself as the protagonist. Wilder was a real person who lived through struggles and heartaches. Her stories connect with readers to this day—even though they describe times from long ago.