The big book about the “Little House” author is now officially a best-seller.
“Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography” debuted at No. 2 on the New York Times’ Feb. 15 list of best-selling hardcover nonfiction books.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder memoir had already climbed to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list in late January. It’s currently No. 4. (Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” follow-up, “Go Set a Watchman,” is No. 1, and it won’t be released until July.)
Wilder was also honored with a Google Doodle on Saturday, which would have been her 148th birthday. The doodle features Laura and big sister Mary on the prairie with a covered wagon and a little log house (naturally) in the background.
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Wilder died in 1957 in Mansfield, Mo., where she wrote “Pioneer Girl” in 1929-30. Intended for adults, the manuscript was never published. With her author daughter Rose Wilder Lane as her editor and mentor, Wilder eventually wrote the eight “Little House” children’s books using “Pioneer Girl” as a guide.
The new volume contains the unvarnished story of Wilder’s early life with her pioneering family, starting in “Indian Territory” (Kansas) and ending in “Dakota Territory,” where she met and married husband Almanzo Wilder.
Pamela Smith Hill, who grew up near Springfield, Mo., not far from the Wilders’ Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, edited the annotated autobiography, filling it with hundreds of footnotes that provide additional detail about the people and places Wilder wrote about.
The “academic” book has been a surprise success. South Dakota Historical Society Press, a small, state-owned publishing house, printed just 15,000 copies in the first run last November. But as The Star noted in a January story about “Pioneer Girl,” demand has been high and copies hard to come by.
The publisher is now preparing for a fourth printing.