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A Ghost on the Prairie: A Little House On The Prairie Review

It took me to the age of twenty-two to discover that The Little House on The Prairie Series had a ghost behind its creation. The ghost in question isn’t one that jumps from book to book, haunting its readers and it isn’t the long-beloved and departed author either. No. Our phantom is shockingly enough, Rose Wilder Lane, daughter to the infamous author of The Little House on The Prairie series, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

In the documentary Laura Ingalls Wilder: Prairie to Pages, we learn about the fascinating story of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the infamous eight-book series, The Little House on The Prairie. The documentary is one of the most intriguing stories behind the origin of the series and the early stories of Wilder’s life as a young child on the prairie. With over 30 million copies sold, and a televised show, which I too, like many, watched as a child, it would be difficult to find someone who did not have some semblance of knowledge on the series or the author. About halfway through the documentary, we gain context into the hidden collaborator behind the series, Rose, and her contribution to the creation of the series.

Rose’s involvement in the creation of the series is so significant and powerful as she managed many roles over its development. Rose took the path that most ghostwriters do. She started her work small, being freelance until she worked her way up to making a regular $30 a week for her freelance work, which for the time was a large and stable income for a writer. By the time she came to the idea to assist her mother in writing a book, who had been selling articles on farm life at the time, Rose was hard at work editing, typing, restructuring and even pitching Wilder’s book Pioneer Girl, the early name for what would later become The Little House on The Prairie Series. Rose was more than just a ghostwriter for her mother, she was a daughter, a mentor, editor, and agent. She went above and beyond the typical tasks of a ghostwriter, although I chock that up to the unconditional love between mother and daughter.

What separates Rose Wilder Lane from others is that she is one of the most sensitive and dutiful ghost riders without the popularized N.D.A. (Non-Disclosure Agreement). Compared to other works and author’s use of ghostwriters, such as the rumors surrounding the Goosebumps Series having secret ghostwriters (posed by Scholastic), and the very public use of ghostwriters in the production of the Nancy Drew Series, Rose Wilder Lane is comparatively a contribute to the craft. I dare to classify Rose as a pioneer of her craft parallel to her mother who was a pioneer of her (folk) art form. She is the embodiment of every value of what it is to be a ghostwriter; passionate, dedicated, and most of all mysterious. I believe that without her hard work and dedication to it, The Little House on The Prairie Series would not have been as successful as it still is today.

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