Laura Ingalls Wilder was the author of many books about her childhood. Most Americans are familiar with her because of the very popular television show in the 1970s.
Changes to the Books and the Tv show
Whether you are a fan of the books or of the Tv, you should know that there were changes to both. Of course, Laura only had creative control over the books, but she did take a few liberties with the stories. Mostly she changed her age in some of the early books because her publisher didn’t believe a child of 4 would have such vivid memories of her childhood. She also omitted some time periods in her childhood, so that by the time the last books were published her book age caught up to her real age.
The changes to the Tv show were much more.
The family only lived in Walnut Grove a very short time
Laura Ingalls Wilder outlived all her Sisters
Laura was the second oldest child. She is pictured here in the middle with Mary on the right and Carrie on the left. Although all the sisters lived fairly long lives, she outlived Carrie by 11 years and her youngest sister Grace by 14 years.
The sisters were very close. Laura relied on her sisters’ memories for helping her to write stories of their youth.
Unlike her television counterpart, Mary never married. After their mother’s passing Grace and Carrie lived with Mary to care for her.
Why was Laura called Bess?
Just as on the tv show and books, She was called Bess by her husband Almanzo, whom she called Manly. The reason that he called her Bess, which was never revealed on the television show was that he had a sister named Laura, so her called her Bess, short for her middle name Elizabeth, to avoid confusion.
She didn’t enjoy teaching
She admitted in later life that she did not particularly enjoy teaching but felt the responsibility from a young age to help her family financially, and wage-earning opportunities for women were limited. After she was married Almanzo, she stopped teaching.