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Laura Ingalls Wilder: Exploring Her Work and Writing Life, The Later Years is a Course

Laura Ingalls Wilder: Exploring Her Work and Writing Life, The Later Years

Ended May 31, 2015

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Full course description

Starts April 6, 2015

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s novels have inspired generations of readers of all ages. Unlike most fiction for young readers published during the Great Depression, Wilder’s Little House books have never gone out of print. While they are uniquely American, they seem to cross cultural boundaries, and have been translated into dozens of languages, from German and French to Indonesian and Japanese.

Mid-way through the Little House series, Wilder transitioned from writing middle grade to young adult fiction, and her final book, which was published after her death, targeted adult readers. How do these books differ from her earlier novels? What new themes do they explore? How did her personal life influence the creative direction of her final books? Are they still relevant today?

This course is designed to explore these issues and more. It will expand your understanding of the literary themes, style, and historical underpinnings in the last five Little House novels: By The Shores Of Silver Lake; The Long Winter; Little Town On The Prairie, and These Happy Golden Years. The class will also examine the editorial partnership Wilder formed with her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, and the parallels between Wilder’s later writing and Lane’s Let The Hurricane Roar (Young Pioneers). At the end of this eight-week course, you’ll emerge with fresh insights into Wilder’s contribution to American young adult literature and her literary legacy.

Required books:

  • By the Shores of Silver Lake, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0064400050
  • The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0644000694
  • Little Town on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0064400077
  • These Happy Golden Years, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0064400085
  • The First Four Years, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 006440031X
  • Young Pioneers (Let the Hurricane Roar), Rose Wilder Lane, HarperCollins, 0064406989

Additional text (optional):

  • Free Land, Rose Wilder Lane, Bison Books, 0803279140
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life, Pamela Smith Hill, South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 097779556X
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder's Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, Pamela Smith Hill, South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 0984504176

Watch Pamela Smith Hill's recent interview on PBS Newshour

Pamela Smith Hill


Pamela Smith Hill grew up in the Missouri Ozarks, about 40 miles from Rocky Ridge Farm, where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote Pioneer Girl and her Little House series of books for young readers. Pamela visited the Rocky Ridge farmhouse for the first time when she was 11, and years later, after moving to South Dakota, where five of Wilder’s nine books are set, began writing professionally about Wilder and her work.

Pamela is the author of Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life and the editor of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. She is also the author of three young adult novels. She has taught classes in professional and creative writing and children’s literature at universities in Missouri, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Her books have been recognized by the Junior Library Guild, the Oregon Book Awards, Western Writers of America, Women Writing The West, the New York Public Library, the National Indie Excellence Committee, and the Mark Twain Award Committee. She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she continues to teach and write.