Coming to PBS’s American Masters today, Tuesday, December 29:
LAURA INGALLS WILDER: PRAIRIE TO PAGE
Mary McDonagh Murphy
PBS broadcast (Dec 2020)
An exploration of the life and writing of the popular children’s book author.
Best known for the LITTLE HOUSE series of books that ostensibly related her childhood on America’s frontier in the late 1800s, Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish her first novel until she was 65 years old, encouraged by her daughter, a successful writer. Director Mary McDonagh Murphy delves into Wilder’s life, and that of her parents, immortalized – and idealized – on the small screen, separating fact from the author’s autobiographically inspired but decidedly simplified and, in many cases, fictionalized version. In addition, the film explores the pivotal and contentious collaboration Wilder had with her daughter, Rose, which was kept a secret, as well as the insensitive and sometimes racist depictions of indigenous and Black people in her writing that casts a pall over the nostalgic affection that many readers have for the books. The result is an engaging look at Wilder and how she not only mythologized her own life, but generations of readers’ conception of the American frontier.