PIERRE, S.D. – Rose Wilder Lane began her life on the prairie of South Dakota and urged her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, to pursue a writing career. It is because of that encouragement that the “Little House on the Prairie” series was born. For that, Lane is one of South Dakota’s Great Faces.
Lane was born in De Smet, S.D., in 1886 to Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder. In 1894, the family moved to Mansfield, Mo.
Lane had an early interest in journalism, and she began to make a career out of her hobby in 1915 by writing for the San Francisco Bulletin.
She soon had a successful career as a freelance writer whose stories were published in “Harper’s,” “Saturday Evening Post,” “Good Housekeeping” and “Ladies Home Journal.” By the 1920s, Lane was one of the highest paid female writers in the country.
Lane encouraged her mother to earn extra money by writing, too. Her mother had written articles in the past, but it was because of Lane’s urging that Laura Ingalls Wilder expanded her writing. Initially, Lane’s mother recorded the stories of life on the prairie as an autobiographical manuscript.
A publisher picked up the composition after Lane and Wilder reworked the manuscript into a children’s book. Soon, the “Little House on the Prairie” series became a top seller around the world.
De Smet is still the “Little Town on the Prairie” where visitors can experience a unique journey filled with history about the Wilders’ life on the prairie. The Ingalls Homestead still stands, and visitors can also enjoy a live outdoor theatre production each July from the “Little House” books.
South Dakota’s Great Faces weekly press release series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism, designed to highlight people who have had significant impacts on South Dakota, particularly in the visitor industry. Click on the special “South Dakota’s Great Faces” link at www.MediaSD.com to access the complete list of articles.
Information for this release was obtained from the South Dakota Hall of Fame.
Photo: Laura Ingalls Wilder Surveyors House from Wilder's book "By the Shores of Silver Creek," in De Smet, S.D.