Dakota Midday: 'Pioneer Girl'

Mar 12, 2015

Before she wrote her beloved Little House on the Prairie series for children, Laura Ingalls Wilder penned an autobiography called Pioneer Girl. Written for adults, the book presents a somewhat grittier, first-person account of life as a pioneer in the Midwest.

Pioneer Girl cover illustration by Judy Thompson
Credit South Dakota Historical Society Press

Pioneer Girl was rejected by publishers, but Wilder’s manuscript served as source material for the Little House books. More than 80 years later, the South Dakota Historical Society Press has published the original manuscript for the first time in an extensively annotated volume edited by author and Wilder scholar Pamela Smith Hill.  

Hill grew up in Springfield, Missouri, about forty minutes from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Rocky Ridge Farm where Wilder wrote Pioneer Girl  and the Little House series. Hill graduated from USD and launched her professional writing career in South Dakota. She published her first book for young adults, Ghost Horses, in 1996. She’s also the author of Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writers Life, published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press. Pamela Smith Hill joined Dakota Midday and discussed Pioneer Girl and the enduring popularity of Laura Ingalls Wilder.