This week on Cultivating Place, we’re celebrating the February 7th birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder with author and historian Marta McDowell. Her newest book is"The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes That Inspired the Little House Books” (Timber Press, 2017) – a surprising plant and environmental journey.
Laura Ingalls Wilder is a name familiar to most Americans born and raised in the 20th century. Her “Little House on the Prairie” series of children's books released from 1932 to 1943 were works of fiction based on her childhood in a settler and pioneer family, in a time of rapid Westward Expansion and white settlement. The books were incredibly popular in their day and when they were made into a well-loved television series in the 1970s and 1980s they caught the imaginations of a whole new generation of readers. Certainly if you were a girl born in the second half of the 1900s in the US, you knew exactly who Ma, Pa, Mary, Carrie and Laura were. What you might not have been as aware of as a reader of the books in your formative years, was just how much ecological, agricultural and gardening information and history your were receiving wrapped up in these engaging human stories.
Marta McDowell is an historian and author. Her books include “Emily Dickinson’s Gardens” and “Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life,” as well as “All the Presidents’ Gardens.” Her most recent book is “The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes that Inspired the Little House Books.” A historical and ecological exploration of a very specific time and place in American History, the book was published by Timber Press in 2017. On February 7th, Laura Ingalls Wilder would be 151.