Are The Little House Books Autobiographical and True or Are They Fiction?

“All I have told is true but it is not the whole truth.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder

In the following videos, Pamela Smith Hill begins to reveal that inaccuracies lie within Wilder’s writing, and she discusses reasons that Wilder sometimes deviated from the full truth. Wilder admitted that she sometimes stretched the truth to better the story and to uncover the greater truth that was beyond historically accurate details.

Wilder’s daughter Rose Lane typed ad edited her mother’s work. She said that “truth ‘is a meaning underlying’ fact and that changing, revising, or modifying events to make a stronger book ‘is not fact but it is perfectly true.’ ” [Hill, Pamela Smith. Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life, p. 2].

“And the fiction Wilder produced, while it was clearly autobiographical, demonstrated her emerging understanding of story: conflict, character, plot, dialogue, description, narrative, and theme–all bound up with her love of family, the prairies of the Middle Border, and the West.” Hill, p. 3

…the greater truth of fiction, the satisfying arc of a good story, ultimately interested Wilder far more than the precise details of her own past. The facts she embellished, changed, and eliminated from her family’s history–and her own life–transformed the real Laura Elizabeth Ingalls….” Hill, p. 3

“:…a memoir, by its very definition, can never be entirely factual. It is an impressionistic remembrance of the past, a reconstruction of memory. For Pioneer Gir., Wilder relied on family accounts to supplement those vivid fragments of memory from her earliest childhood.” Hill, p. 11

[You can still register for Hill’s course Laura Ingalls Wilder Here.]


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