Caroline Fraser, Author, 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, "Prairie Fires"

Air Dates: June 6-8, 2020


Recipient of The 2018 Pulitzer Prize For Biography For Her Book

"Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder"

This week's guest on REPORT FROM SANTA FE is Santa Fe author Caroline Fraser, recipient of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Biography for her book "Prairie Fires: the American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder." Fraser’s book was also named among the New York Times' "Ten Best Books of 2017," and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography.

Formerly on the editorial staff of the New Yorker, Fraser’s work has also appeared in the Atlantic Monthly and the New York Review of Books. among others. She is the author of God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church (1999), and Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution (2009). Additionally, she is the editor of the two volumes of the Library of America's Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Little House Books (2012).

Laura Ingalls Wilder was an American writer known for the beloved "Little House on the Prairie" series of children's books. Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls—the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains, and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true story of her life has never been fully told.

Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser—the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series—masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder’s biography, uncovering the grown-up story behind the most influential childhood epic of pioneer life.

Wilder lived from 1867 to 1957, documenting almost a century of American history, from the Indian Wars and the settlement of the Great Plains to the Dust Bowl and the Depression. Her descriptions of pioneer life are unparalleled. On a highway plaque near one of her family's homestead in South Dakota is a revealing quote from Wilder, "No one who has not pioneered can understand the fascination and terror of it."

In her beloved "Little House on the Prairie" books, she vividly captures the hardships of homesteading - the deep poverty, the hard work, the drought, plagues of locusts, the loss of homes, health, and crops.