The Little House series is based on decades-old memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder's childhood in the northern Midwest region of the United States late in the 19th century. The books are narrated in the third person with Laura Ingalls as the central character and protagonist, and are generally classified as fiction rather than as autobiography in libraries and bookstores. Wilder's daughter Rose Wilder Lane assisted her mother with the editing of the works. The depth of her involvement, and the extent of her influence on the theme and content of the books, has been the subject of some scholarly debate in recent years. Almost all Wilder scholars and her biographers consider that the writing of the books was a tense but ultimately effective continuing collaboration between mother and daughter, with Wilder writing the books and her daughter editing them.
The original Little House books have remained continuously in print since their publication in the 1930s and early 1940s by Harper & Brothers (succeeded by Harper & Row and HarperCollins). They are considered classics of American children's literature and remain widely read. In a 2012 survey published by School Library Journal, a monthly with primarily U.S. audience, Little House in the Big Woods was ranked number 19 among all-time best children's novels, and two of its sequels were ranked among the top 100.
The eight children's novels were originally illustrated primarily by Helen Sewell, with Mildred Boyle co-illustrator for the last five of them. Those five were all among the annual Newbery Medal runners-up (now called Newbery Honor Books). In 1953 Harper issued a complete set re-illustrated by Garth Williams, who also illustrated The First Four Years (1971). Modern editions generally retain the Williams illustrations.
The books have been adapted for stage or screen more than once, most successfully as the American television series Little House on the Prairie, which ran from 1974 to 1983.Little House in the Big Woods (1932)
Farmer Boy (1933) – about her husband's childhood on a farm in New York
Little House on the Prairie (1935)
On the Banks of Plum Creek (1937)
By the Shores of Silver Lake (1939)
The Long Winter (1940)
Little Town on the Prairie (1941)
These Happy Golden Years (1943)
The first eight novels were published by Harper with cover illustrations by Helen Sewell and interior illustrations by Sewell or by Sewell and Mildred Boyle. The last concluded with a note, "The end of the Little house books." In 1953, the eight were reissued in a "newly illustrated, uniform edition" with cover and interior illustrations by Garth Williams, which later editions have commonly retained.The First Four Years (1971), unedited and published posthumously, perhaps intended as a book in the series or a novel for adults; Ingalls Wilder never developed the manuscript beyond a first draft, and her ultimate intent is not known
The ninth novel, unfinished and published posthumously, is commonly considered part of the Little House series and is included in the 9-volume paperback box set Little House, Big Adventure (Harper Trophy, May 1994). The nine alone are summarized in the subsections below.On the Way Home (1962), published posthumously original diary from a trip from De Smet to Mansfield in 1894
West From Home (1974), unedited and published posthumously
The Road Back (2006), unedited and published posthumously as a part of A Little House Traveler: Writings from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Journeys Across America
The success of the Little House series has resulted in two series ("Little House Chapter Books" and "My First Little House Books") that present the original stories in condensed and simplified form for younger readers. Other titles include sticker and craft books, cookbooks, diaries, calendars, dishes, and so on.
Four series of books expand the Little House series to include five generations of Laura Ingalls Wilder's family. The "Martha Years" and "Charlotte Years" series, by Melissa Wiley, are fictionalized tales of Laura's great-grandmother in Scotland in the late 18th century and grandmother in early 19th century Massachusetts. The "Caroline Years" series narrates Laura's mother, Caroline Quiner's, childhood in Wisconsin. The Rose Years (originally known as the "Rocky Ridge Years") series follows Rose Wilder Lane from childhood in Missouri to early adulthood in San Francisco. It was written by her surrogate grandson Roger MacBride. Lane's novels, Let the Hurricane Roar (also known as Young Pioneers) and Free Land can be seen as re-tellings of the Little House books from an adult perspective, as many of the incidents in both books mirror the experiences of her parents and grandparents. In fact, "Young Pioneers"'s main characters are even named Charles and Caroline, the names of Laura's parents.
Noted children's author Cynthia Rylant has written a slender volume, Old Town in the Green Groves, that covers the two years in Laura's life between On The Banks of Plum Creek and By The Shores of Silver Lake which are unnarrated in the original series of books. Two volumes of Laura's letters and diaries have also been issued under the Little House imprint: On The Way Home and West From Home, both published by Harper Collins in 1962 and 1974 respectively.
The series The Days of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Thomas L. Tedrow, offers tales of Laura's early adulthood in Missouri; unlike the core Little House books, the Tedrow series is not drawn from episodes in Wilder's life. In 2011 Wendy McClure published The Wilder Life: My Adventures in The Lost World of Little House on the Prairie. McClure describes in detail her personal journey into what she calls "Laura World": visiting the locations mentioned in the original books, attempting to buy a butter churn on eBay so she can experience making butter the way Laura and Ma did, and her internet research into anyone or anything remotely connected with the Ingalls family. McClure brings her somewhat reluctant boyfriend Chris with her on her journeys.
The story of the first book in the series, Little House in the Big Woods revolves around the life of the Ingalls family in their small home near Pepin, Wisconsin. The family includes mother Caroline Ingalls, father Charles Ingalls, elder daughter Mary Amelia Ingalls, and younger daughter (and protagonist), Laura Ingalls Wilder. Also in the story, though not yet born historically, is Laura's baby sister Carrie. In the book, Laura herself turns five years old, when the real-life author had only been three during the events of the book. According to a letter from her daughter, Rose, to biographer William Anderson, the publisher had Laura change her age in the book because it seemed unrealistic for a three-year-old to have specific memories such as she wrote about. For similar reasons and for the sake of consistency, in the later book, Little House on the Prairie, Laura portrayed herself as 6–7 years old.
Little House in the Big Woods describes the homesteading skills Laura observed and began to practice during her fifth year. The cousins come for Christmas that year, and Laura receives a doll, which she names Charlotte. Later that winter, the family goes to Grandma Ingalls’s and has a “sugaring off,” when they harvest sap and make maple syrup. They return home with buckets of syrup, enough to last the year. Laura remembered that sugaring off, and the dance that followed, for the rest of her life.
The book also describes other farm work duties and events, such as the birth of a calf, and the availability of milk, butter and cheese, gardening, field work, hunting, gathering, and more. Everyday housework is also described in detail. When Pa went into the woods to hunt, he usually came home with a deer then smoked the meat for the coming winter. One day he noticed a bee tree and returned from hunting early to get the wash tub and milk pail to collect the honey. When Pa returned in the winter evenings, Laura and Mary always begged him to play his fiddle, as he was too tired from farm work to play during the summertime.
Farmer Boy, published in 1933, is the second-published of the Little House books and it is commonly numbered two in the series, but its story is unrelated to that of the inaugural novel, Little House in the Big Woods. It features the boyhood of Laura's future husband Almanzo Wilder from before his ninth birthday until after his tenth. The Wilder family – in the novel as in fact – lived in New York state.
Little House on the Prairie, published in 1935, is the third book in the Little House series but only the second that features the Ingalls family; it continues directly the story of the inaugural novel, Little House in the Big Woods. The book takes place from 1869 to 1870.
The book tells about the months the Ingalls family spent on the prairie of Kansas, around the town of Independence, Kansas. At the beginning of this story, Pa Ingalls decides to sell the house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, and move the family, via covered wagon to the Indian Territory near Independence, Kansas, as there were widely circulating stories that the land (technically still under Osage ownership) would be opened to settlement by homesteaders imminently. So Laura, along with Pa and Ma, Mary, and baby Carrie, move to Kansas. Along the way, Pa trades his two horses for two Western mustangs, which Laura and Mary name Pet and Patty.
When the family reaches Indian Territory, they meet Mr. Edwards, who is extremely polite to Ma, but tells Laura and Mary that he is "a wildcat from Tennessee." Mr. Edwards is an excellent neighbor, and helps the Ingalls in every way he can, beginning with helping Pa erect their house. Pa builds a roof and a floor for their house and digs a well, and the family is finally settled.
At their new home, unlike their time in the Big Woods, the family meets difficulty and danger. The Ingalls family becomes terribly ill from a disease called at that time "fever 'n' ague" (fever with severe chills and shaking) which was later identified as malaria. Laura comments on the varied ways they believe to have acquired it, with "Ma" believing it came from eating bad watermelon. Mrs. Scott, another neighbor, takes care of the family while they are sick. Around this time, Mr. Edwards brings Laura and Mary their Christmas presents from Independence, and in the spring, the Ingalls plant the beginnings of a small farm.
Irony also becomes a part of this book. Ma's prejudice about American Indians, and Laura's childish observations of them, are contrasted with Pa's more egalitarian view of them, and these views collectively are shown side by side with the objective portrayal of the Osage tribe that lives on and owns that land.
At the end of this book, the family is told that the land must be vacated by settlers as it is not legally open to settlement yet, and in 1870 Pa elects to leave the land and move before the Army forcibly requires him to abandon the land.
Many of the incidents in the book are actual situations that happened to the Ingalls family at that time in their lives as told to Laura by her Pa, Ma and sister Mary over the years. Because Laura was, in fact, 2 to 3½ years old while her family lived in Indian Territory during 1869–1870, and did not remember the incidents herself, Laura did more historical research on this novel than on any other novel she wrote, in an attempt to have all details as correct as possible.
On the Banks of Plum Creek, published in 1937 and fourth in the series, follows the Ingalls family as they move from Pepin, Wisconsin to Kansas to an area near Walnut Grove, Minnesota, and settle in a dugout "on the banks of Plum Creek (Redwood County, Minnesota)". In reality, the occurrences and anecdotes in the first book Little House on the Prairie took place after their return from Indian Territory. The Ingalls family left for their journey to Minnesota on Laura's seventh birthday, February 7, 1874. In this book, Laura is between the ages of seven to nine years old, which was chronologically correct.
During the course of the story, Jack, the family bulldog, moves with the family to Plum Creek, though in real life he did not make the journey with the family. Readers liked Jack so much that Laura decided to include him in this book.
Pa trades his horses Pet and Patty to the property owner (a man named Hanson) for the land and crops, but later gets two new horses as Christmas presents for the family, which Laura and her sister Mary name "Sam" and "David". Pa soon builds a new, above-ground, wooden house for the family. During this story, Laura and Mary go to school for the first time in Walnut Grove (the town is never actually named by Laura in the book) where they meet their teacher, Miss Eva Beadle. They also meet Nellie Oleson, who makes fun of Laura and Mary for being "country girls." Laura plays with her bulldog Jack when she is home, and she and Mary are invited to a party at the Olesons' home. Laura and Mary invite all the girls (including Nellie) to a party at their house to reciprocate. The family soon goes through hard times when a plague of Rocky Mountain Locust decimates their crops. The book ends with Pa returning safely to the house after being unaccounted for during a severe four-day blizzard.
By the Shores of Silver Lake, published in 1939 and fifth in the series, is based on Laura's late childhood spent near De Smet, South Dakota, beginning in 1879. The book also introduces Laura's youngest sister Grace Pearl.
The story begins when the family is about to leave Plum Creek, shortly after the family has recovered from the scarlet fever which caused Mary to become blind. The family welcomes a visit from Aunt Docia, whom they had not seen for several years. She suggests that Pa and Ma move west to the rapidly developing Dakota Territory, where Pa could work in Uncle Henry’s railroad camp at very good wages for that era. Ma and Pa agree, since it will allow Pa to look for a homestead while he works. The family has endured many hardships on Plum Creek and Pa especially is anxious for a new start. After selling his land and farm to neighbors, Pa goes ahead with the wagon and team. Mary is still too weak to travel so the rest of the family follows later by train.
The day Pa leaves, however, their beloved bulldog Jack is found dead, which saddens Laura greatly. In actuality, the dog upon whom Jack was based was no longer with the family at this point, but the author inserted his death here to serve as a transition between her childhood and her adolescence. Laura also begins to play a more mature role in the family due to Mary's blindness – Pa instructs Laura to "be Mary's eyes" and to assist her in daily life as she learns to cope with her disability. Mary is strong and willing to learn.
The family travels to Dakota Territory by train – this is the children's first train trip and they are excited by the novelty of this new mode of transportation that allows them to travel in one hour the distance it would take a horse and wagon an entire day to cover.
With the family reunited and situated at the railroad camp, Laura meets her cousin Lena, and the two become good friends.
As winter approaches, and the railroad workers take down the cabins and head back East, the family wonders where they might stay for the winter. As luck would have it, the county surveyor needs a house-sitter while he is East for the winter, and Pa signs up. It is a winter of luxury for the Ingalls family as they are given all the provisions they need in the large, comfortable house. They spend a cozy winter with their new friends, Mr. and Mrs. Boast, and both families look forward to starting their new claims in the spring.
But the "Spring Rush" comes early. The large mobilization of pioneers to the Dakotas in early March prompts Pa to leave immediately on the few days' trip to the claims office. The girls are left alone and spend their days and nights boarding and feeding all the pioneers passing through. They charge 25 cents for dinner and boarding, starting a savings account toward sending Mary to the School for the Blind in Vinton, Iowa (she does go two books later).
Pa successfully files his claim, with the aid of old friend Mr. Edwards. As the spring flowers bloom and the prairie comes alive with new settlers, the Ingalls family moves to their new piece of land and begins building what will become their permanent home.
The Long Winter, published in 1940 and sixth in the series, covers the shortest timespan of the novels, only an eight-month period. The winter of 1880–1881 was a notably severe winter in history, sometimes known as "The Snow Winter".
The story begins in Dakota Territory at the Ingalls homestead in South Dakota on a hot September day in 1880 as Laura and her father ("Pa") are haying. Pa tells Laura that he knows the winter is going to be hard because muskrats always build a house with thick walls before a hard winter, and this year, they have built the thickest walls he has ever seen. In mid-October, the Ingalls wake with an unusually early blizzard howling around their poorly insulated claim shanty. Soon afterward, Pa receives another warning from an unexpected source: a dignified old Native American man comes to the general store in town to warn the white settlers that there will be seven months of blizzards. Impressed, Pa decides to move the family into town for the winter.
Laura attends school with her younger sister, Carrie until the weather becomes too severe to permit them to walk to and from the school building. Blizzard after blizzard sweeps through the town over the next few months. Food and fuel become scarce and expensive, as the town depends on the trains to bring supplies but the frequent blizzards prevent the trains from getting through. Eventually, the railroad company suspends all efforts to dig out the train, stranding the town. For weeks, the Ingalls subsist on potatoes and coarse brown bread, using twisted hay for fuel. As even this meager food runs out, Laura's future husband Almanzo Wilder and his friend Cap Garland risk their lives to bring wheat to the starving townspeople – enough to last the rest of the winter.
Laura's age in this book is also accurate. (In 1880, she would have been 13, as she states in the first chapter.) However, Almanzo Wilder's age is misrepresented in this book. Much is made of the fact that he is 19 pretending to be 21 in order to illegally obtain a homestead claim from the US government. But in 1880, his true age would have been 23. Scholar Ann Romines has suggested that Laura made Almanzo younger because it was felt that more modern audiences would be scandalized by the great difference in their ages in light of their young marriage.
As predicted, the blizzards continue for seven months. Finally, the trains begin running again, bringing the Ingalls a Christmas barrel full of good things – including a turkey. In the last chapter, they sit down to enjoy their Christmas dinner in May.
Little Town on the Prairie, published in 1941 and seventh in the series, begins in 1881, just after the long winter, and is largely set in De Smet, South Dakota. Laura is 14 years old.
The story begins as Laura accepts her first job performing sewing work in order to earn money for Mary to go to a college for the blind in Iowa. Laura's hard work comes to an end by summer when she is let go, and the family begins planning to raise cash crops to pay for Mary's college. After the crops are destroyed by blackbirds, Pa sells a calf to earn the balance of the money needed. When Ma and Pa escort Mary to the college, Laura, Carrie, and Grace are left alone for a week. In order to stave off the loneliness stemming from Mary's departure, Laura, Carrie, and Grace do the fall cleaning. They have several problems, but the house is sparkling when they are done. Ma and Pa come home, and are truly surprised.
In the fall, the Ingalls quickly prepare for a move to town for the winter. Laura and Carrie attend school in town and Laura is reunited with her friends Minnie Johnson and Mary Power and meets a new girl, Ida Brown. There is a new schoolteacher for the winter term: Eliza Jane Wilder, Almanzo’s sister. Nellie Oleson, Laura's nemesis from Plum Creek, has moved to De Smet and is attending the school. Nellie turns the teacher against Laura and Miss Wilder loses control of the school for a time. A visit by the school board restores order; however, Miss Wilder leaves at the end of the fall term, and is eventually replaced by Mr. Clewett and then Mr. Owen, the latter of whom befriends Laura. Through the course of the winter, Laura sets herself to studying, as she only has one year left before she can apply for a teaching certificate.
At the same time, Almanzo Wilder begins escorting Laura home from church. By Christmastime, Almanzo once again sees Laura home, and offers to take her on a sleigh ride after he completes the cutter he is building.
At home, Laura is met by Mr. Boast and Mr. Brewster, who ask Laura if she would be interested in a teaching position at a settlement led by Brewster twelve miles (19 km) from town. The school superintendent, George Williams, comes and tests Laura (though she is two months too young, he never asks her age), and she is awarded a third-grade teaching certificate.
These Happy Golden Years, published in 1943 and eighth in the series, originally ended with a note alone on the last page: "The end of the Little house books." It takes place between 1882 and 1885. As the story begins, Pa is taking Laura 12 miles (19 km) from home to her first teaching assignment at Brewster settlement. Laura, only 15 and a schoolgirl herself, is apprehensive as this is both the first time she has left home and the first school she has taught. She is determined to complete her assignment and earn $40 to help her sister Mary, who is attending Vinton College for the Blind in Iowa.
This first school proves difficult for her. Laura must board with the Brewsters in their two-room claim shanty, sleeping on their sofa. The Brewsters are an unhappy family and Laura is deeply uncomfortable observing the way husband and wife quarrel. In one particularly unsettling incident, she wakes in the night to see Mrs Brewster standing over her husband with a knife. It's a bitterly cold winter, and neither the claim shanty or the school house can be heated adequately. The children she is teaching, some of whom are older than she is herself, test her skills as a teacher. Laura grows more self-assured through the term, and successfully completes the two-month term.
To Laura's surprise and delight, homesteader Almanzo Wilder (with whom she became acquainted in Little Town on the Prairie) appears at the end of her first week of school in his new two-horse cutter to bring her home for the weekend. Already fond of Laura and wanting to ease her homesickness, Almanzo takes it upon himself to bring her home and back to school each weekend.
The relationship continues after the school term ends. Sleigh rides give way to buggy rides in the spring, and Laura impresses Almanzo with her willingness to help break his new and often temperamental horses. Laura's old nemesis, Nellie Oleson, makes a brief appearance during two Sunday buggy rides with Almanzo. Nellie's chatter and flirtatious behavior towards Almanzo annoys Laura. Shortly thereafter, Nellie moves back to New York after her family loses their homestead.
Laura's Uncle Tom (Ma's brother) visits the family and tells of his failed venture with a covered wagon brigade seeking gold in the Black Hills. Laura helps out seamstress Mrs. McKee by staying with her and her daughter on their prairie claim for two months to "hold it down" as required by law. The family enjoys summer visits from Mary.
The family finances have improved to the point that Pa can sell a cow to purchase a sewing machine for Ma. Laura continues to teach and work as a seamstress.
Almanzo invites Laura to attend summer "singing school" with him and her classmates. On the last evening of singing school while driving Laura home, Almanzo – who has by now been courting Laura for three years – proposes to Laura. During their next ride, Almanzo presents Laura with a garnet-and-pearl ring and they share their first kiss.
Several months later, after Almanzo has finished building a house on his tree claim, he asks Laura if she would mind getting married within a few days as his sister and mother have their hearts set on a large church wedding, which Pa cannot afford. Laura agrees, and she and Almanzo are married in a simple ceremony by the Reverend Brown. After a wedding dinner with her family, Laura drives away with Almanzo and the newlyweds settle contentedly into their new home.
The First Four Years, published in 1971, is commonly considered the ninth and last book in the original Little House series. It is the last one to feature Laura as the protagonist, and covers the earliest years of Laura and Almanzo's marriage.
The First Four Years derives its title from a promise Laura made to Almanzo when they became engaged. Laura did not want to be a farm wife, but she consented to try farming for three years. At the end of that time, Laura and Almanzo mutually agreed to continue for one more year, a "year of grace", in Laura's words. The book ends at the close of that fourth year, on a rather optimistic note. In reality, the continually hot, dry Dakota summers, and several other tragic events described in the book eventually drove them from their land, but they later founded a very successful fruit and dairy farm in Missouri, where they lived comfortably until their respective deaths.
Pepin, Wisconsin was Wilder's birthplace. Her birthplace is about seven miles (11 km) north of the village, and is marked by a replica cabin along the former WIS-183 at the Little House Wayside (near Lund, Wisconsin). Pepin celebrates her life every September with traditional music, craft demonstrations, a "Laura look-alike" contest, a spelling bee, and other events.
Independence, Kansas is the location where the Ingalls family settled on the Osage Diminished Reserve from 1869 to 1870, and was at the center of the plot of the book, Little House on the Prairie. Within a year of settling, the government required the family to vacate, and they never returned.
Laura had always heard from her family that the home was "40 miles [64 km] from Independence," which would have put the house approximately where the town of Nowata, Oklahoma, is today. It was, in fact, about 13 miles (21 km) from Independence, not 40 miles (64 km), though the surveying techniques of the day would in fact have measured it as being 14 miles (23 km). The reason for this rather large discrepancy is not known, although she may have misheard or mis-remembered "14 miles" as "40 miles".
The actual site of the Charles Ingalls house on Indian land was located in what is now the southeast corner of Section 36, Rutland Township, Montgomery County, Kansas. It is the only quarter section in that area with no claim filed in 1870 (no claims could be filed until 1871, and the Ingallses had returned to Wisconsin by then) and it is the only quarter section with a hand-dug well (which Pa told of digging shortly after their arrival there). Carrie Ingalls' birth is also recorded as being in Montgomery County, Kansas in August 1870. Today there is a facsimile log cabin at the site.
The state of Kansas has designated the childhood home of Laura Ingalls southwest of Independence as an historic site, which is open to visitors. The site includes a cabin modeled after the original Ingalls cabin. Sunnyside School House has been moved to the site and the original post office used at near by Wayside, Kansas has also been moved to the location. Much of the surrounding countryside retains its open and undeveloped nature.
In 1874, when Wilder was seven years old, the family left their home near Pepin for the second time and settled just outside Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Walnut Grove may be the most recognized name of all the towns Wilder wrote about in her books (although it is the only town she did not mention by name) because Michael Landon's television series Little House on the Prairie of the 1970s and 1980s was set here. Although the show depicts the family as living here through Wilder's adulthood, in reality, they only lived here a few years.
The Ingalls family moved to Burr Oak, Iowa briefly in 1876 so that Pa could take a job co-managing The Masters' Hotel. They would stay for only one year before returning to Walnut Grove, and the family's time in Burr Oak was never mentioned in any of the "Little House" books. In 1976 the restored Hotel was opened as a museum.
De Smet, South Dakota, attracts many fans with its historic sites from the books By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years. The Ingalls family moved to De Smet from Minnesota in 1879, and most members of the family lived there (or nearby) for the rest of their lives. Locations in the area that have been restored and are open to visitors include: the Surveyors' House, where the family stayed during the winter of 1879–80 (the house was moved into town in 1885 from its original location on Silver Lake); the Ingalls Homestead southeast of town; a replica of the Brewster School, where Wilder taught as a teenager; and a house on Third Street built by Charles Ingalls in 1887 (Wilder herself never lived there, as she was already married when the house was built). Charles, Caroline, Mary, Carrie, and Grace Ingalls, and the unnamed infant son of Laura and Almanzo Wilder are buried in the De Smet Cemetery. Laura and Almanzo Wilder stayed briefly in Westville, Florida, in the 1890s, and they moved permanently to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894.
Mansfield, Missouri is the chosen final home town of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was here, on her farm, that she wrote the Little House books. Each year the whole town celebrates with a festival, turning back the clock to the late 19th century. During the festival, the town square becomes a showcase for handmade crafts. There is a big parade, and folk music is played from the gazebo in the park.
Jackanory is a British television series intended to encourage children to read; it ran from 1965 to 1996, and was revived in 2006. From October 24 through October 28, 1966, five short episodes aired that were based on Little House in the Big Woods, with Red Shively as the storyteller. From October 21 through October 25, 1968, five more were released, this time based on Farmer Boy, with Richard Monette as the storyteller.
The television series Little House on the Prairie aired on the NBC network from 1974 to 1983. The show was a loose adaptation of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie semi-autobiographical novel series, although the namesake book was represented in the premiere only; the ensuing television episodes primarily followed characters and locations from the follow-up book, On the Banks of Plum Creek(1937), although the continuity of the television series greatly departed from this book as well. Some storylines were borrowed from Wilders' later books but were portrayed as having taken place in the Plum Creek setting. Michael Landon starred as Charles Ingalls, Karen Grassle played Caroline Ingalls, Melissa Gilbert played Laura Ingalls, Melissa Sue Anderson played Mary Ingalls, and the twins Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush (credited as Lindsay Sidney Greenbush) played Carrie Ingalls. Victor French portrayed long-time friend Mr. Edwards. Dean Butler portrayed Laura's husband, Almanzo Wilder. Some characters were added in the show, such as Albert, played by Matthew Laborteaux, an orphan whom the family adopted.
Although it deviated from the original books in many respects, the television series, which was set in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, was one of a few long-running successful dramatic family shows. It remained a top-rated series, and garnered 17 Emmy® and three Golden Globe® nominations, along with two People’s Choice® Awards.
A Japanese cartoon series of 26 episodes (about 24 minutes each), originally entitled Sōgen no shōjo Laura.
Two made for television movies by Marcus Cole, with Meredith Monroe as Laura. Part 1 tells the story of teenage Laura in DeSmet, while the second part is about Laura and Almanzo's (Walton Goggins) marriage and their life in Mansfield, Missouri. It also focuses a lot on the character of Wilder's young daughter; Rose (Skye McCole Bartusiak).
The 2005 ABC five-hour (six-episode) miniseries Little House on the Prairie attempted to follow closely the books Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie. It starred Cameron Bancroft as Charles Ingalls; Erin Cottrell as Caroline Ingalls; Kyle Chavarria as Laura Ingalls; Danielle Chuchran as Mary Ingalls; and Gregory Sporleder as Mr Edwards. It was directed by David L. Cunningham. In 2006 the mini-series was released on DVD and the 2-disc set runs approximately 255 minutes long.
A musical version of the Little House books premiered at the Guthrie Theater, Minnesota on July 26, 2008. The musical has music by Rachel Portman and lyrics by Donna DiNovelli and is directed by Francesca Zambello with choreography by Michele Lynch. The cast includes Melissa Gilbert as "Ma". The musical began a US national tour in October 2009.
Little House on the Prairie: The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder is a one-hour documentary film that looks at the life of Wilder. Wilder's story as a writer, wife, and mother is explored through interviews with scholars and historians, archival photography, paintings by frontier artists, and dramatic reenactments.