Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nellie Oleson, and the Cult of 'Little House On The Prairie'

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Eighty years ago this year, Laura Ingalls Wilder penned the first draft of what would eventually become her first book, “Little House in the Big Woods.” The semi-autobiographical young adult novel followed Wilder’s adventures with her sisters and parents in the Midwest during the late 1800s, and was soon followed by several more books - all of which make up the wildly popular “Little House” series. Since their original publication, none of the books have ever gone out of print.

But the popularity of Laura Ingalls Wilder goes well beyond her books. Laura Ingalls Wilder museums have been erected in many of the towns where Wilder once lived; there’s the musical that debuted last year, based on the books; this week begins the first ever “Laurapalooza Conference” in Mankato, Minnesota…and of course, there’s that iconic television series that ran from 1974 to 1984 and has run continually in syndication around the world ever since.

What is it about “Little House on the Prairie” that we love, and why does it seem to be more popular than ever?

Helping us grapple with these questions is a very special guest: Alison Arngrim, who played villain Nellie Oleson on the TV series. She’s also the author of a new book, “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch.”

Our friend Patrik Henry Bass, senior editor for Essence magazine, also weighs in - on Wilder’s influence, and why we continue to love “Little House” all these years later.


Alison Arngrim

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer


Patrik Henry Bass

Comments [5]

Deep breath, "Jonathan from Long Island"! I was a devoted fan of LHOTP, but I couldn't have told you it was on Mondays! Just not a detail that sticks this many years later, but the show's messages and its appeal sure does.

Jul. 30 2010 02:07 AM
Jonathan from Long Island

Once again, John displays his ingorance and disregard for fact.

Little House on the Prairie was on Monday nights, Love Boat was on Saturday nights.

Jul. 29 2010 12:27 PM

For those of you who don't know Portuguese (like many of our staffers), here's a google translation of Luisa's comment:

"I love watching the pioneers: I am a fan and my parents are too! Began to watch the series in April this year in Brazil by the TCM channel.
My father started watching when he was about 16 and now I'm getting the chance to see too."

Jul. 21 2010 07:21 AM

Eu adoro assistir os pioneiros, eu sou fã e os meus pais também!!
Começou a repassar a série em abril deste ano no Brasil pelo canal TCM.
Meu pai assistia quando ele tinha uns 16 e agora eu com 13 tô tendo a chance de ver também...

Jul. 20 2010 10:24 PM
Jessica from New York City

You twice called Laura Ingalls Wilder's books "sappy." If you had any acquaintance with them, you would know this is not true. They are anything but! This is an insult to some great works of literature.

Jul. 15 2010 07:57 AM

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