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The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane (MISSOURI BIOGRAPHY SERIES) Paperback – April 1, 1995


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The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane (MISSOURI BIOGRAPHY SERIES) + Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life (South Dakota Biography) + Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman behind the Legend (MISSOURI BIOGRAPHY SERIES)
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Product Details

  • Series: MISSOURI BIOGRAPHY SERIES (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: University of Missouri; Reprint edition (April 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826210155
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826210159
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #995,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Do anything you please with the damn stuff if you will fix it up," said Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie series, to her daughter Rose, who, according to Holtz's startling research, was the de facto author of her mother's books. Drawing on diaries and letters, Holtz, a professor of English at the University of Missouri, details Lane's life (1886-1968) in an engrossing study that highlights her troubled relationship with an apparently cold and manipulative mother. At 17, she fled her parents' farm in Missouri, married (and later divorced) Gillette Lane, and then traversed the globe, supporting herself as a journalist in New York, Baghdad and Albania, making friends with such writers as Floyd Dell and Dorothy Thompson. Guilt drove her back to the farm to help her parents until publication of the Little House series, under her mother's name--but heavily rewritten and edited by Rose--freed her financially. A believer in rugged individualism, Lane's treatise The Discovery of Freedom became the Bible of the Libertarian Party. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Fans of the "Little House on the Prairie" series, which fictionalizes the life of the author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, may be disappointed to discover that her works were actually ghostwritten by her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane (1886-1968). Thus asserts this well-researched study by Holtz (English, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia). Rose was a precocious girl with a flair for writing who found her mother to be puritanical and critical. This biography details Rose's forays into the world as she attempted to launch her own writing career. She experienced limited commercial success but often found herself financially and emotionally strained, especially in view of the demands of her parents. Rose injected her own populist ideas into her mother's work as she crafted her mother's rudimentary writings into the readable books that are still popular today. The tenuous relationship between mother and daughter offers additional interest in this book. Recommended for public libraries.
- Mary Ellen Beck, Troy P.L., N.Y.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I am a huge LIW fan, and found this book very interesting.
Wombat
Are there, perhaps, interim versions of the books that haven't been found?
Laurie M. Russell
He went to alot of trouble just trying to read too much into silly things.
C.l.O

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Laura M. Ingram on December 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
There are some things I like very much about this book. It's well-written, full of the details that make a potentially dry literary biography more palatable (how did she live, what did she read, who were her friends, where did she travel), and its narrative successfuly manages to balance points of intellectual and human interest about an author who, whether deservedly or undeservedly, has been something of a forgotten figure in the history of American letters.

However, I couldn't finish the book without feeling, repeatedly, that the author spared no opportunity to take potshots at the person he feels unfairly overshadowed the legacy of Rose Wilder Lane--that is, her mother--without offering sufficient textual support. In the interest of some brevity, I will use only one example: the incident with Rose's dog after she had left the Rocky Ridge farmhouse and was working on the book about Missouri (and her mother was taking back control of the farm). The book states that LWI had the dog killed, but provides no context for the incident--just drops the fact in the text like a bomb. This is a particularly prejudicial detail that should have been handled more responsibly--that is, explained better or left out completely. Did she have it done out of spite? Because she didn't want to take care of it? Did it attack someone? Or was the dog sick and it was the humane thing to do? Whatever the truth is, it is the kind of detail that says a lot about the people involved, but it feels like Mr. Holz uses is simply as a quick, value-laden detail that would underscore how bad of a mother he thinks LIW was. "Oh yeah--and if all I've already mentioned wasn't enough to convince you, she went and had her daughter's dog killed, too."

("I'll get you my pretty--you and your little dog, too.
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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
The only lengthy biography of Laura's daughter, this book details the fascinating life of Rose Wilder Lane. Rose was a very different personality than her mother, but she lived an equally interesting life. What this book is best known for is the claim that Rose not only edited the Little House books for her mother, but basically ghost wrote them. It is true that this is the first book to draw major attention to the fact that Rose helped her mother with the books.But it is not accurate to state that she edited them so much they were her own work. If you read Rose's fiction, then you read the Little House books, you can see she wrote in a different style than Laura. Reading a collection of Laura's earlier farm newspaper writings, you can see that Laura did have writing ability. Rose was much more familiar with the world of professional writing than Laura was. Certainly, she did help Laura, but this book overstates things.
Perhaps the truth is that Rose was a better editor than a writer.Most people would much rather read the Little House books than Rose's stories like ''Innocence'' and ''Autumn''. A better view of the collaboration of Laura and her daughter is in Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder by John Miller. But this book is worthwhile to read if you want the story of Rose's life independent of that of her mother.I am distantly related(through her father's relatives) to Laura, and thus to Rose.
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86 of 94 people found the following review helpful By KC on January 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
I thought I would give this book a 'second chance' so I am slogging through it again. I won't deny that Rose Wilder Lane was a complex person, BUT I really don't think that Laura Ingalls Wilder was as much an untalented ogre as this book would have us believe. I do believe that Rose was a terrific EDITOR, but I don't believe that she 'wrote' Laura's books, or that Laura couldn't write. There is plenty of evidence out there that Laura was a very adept writer. For instance, her columns and articles for the Missouri Ruralist (Rose was off in Albania at the time Laura wrote most of these, so how could she have had a hand in them? ); Laura's beautifully descriptive letters to Almanzo in "West from Home" (WHY would Rose have to write Laura's personal letters for her?). Further, as a reviewer below stated, Rose's own published works, aside from her short stories, leave much to be desired.
As far as her personal life, Rose seems to have been a very depressed person who was seldom happy in her life, and blamed it on her mother. A better book, I think, is "Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder" by John Miller - better written and far more enlighting, in my opinion!
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90 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Laurie M. Russell on January 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
"The Ghost in the Little House" was a poorly written book with, what seemed to me, a clear agenda: To restore Rose Wilder Lane to her rightful literary position, and to dethrone Laura Ingalls Wilder as the genius behind the "Little House" books. Not content with criticizing her professionally, Mr. Holtz also portrays Laura as an indifferent mother who was directly responsible for all of Rose's problems. There was no middle ground. His interpretation of the facts was that in order to elevate Rose, we must denigrate her mother.
One scene in the book has Laura, at an advanced age, falling to the ground and struggling to get up while Rose merely watched in silence, never extending a hand to help her mother. I think we were supposed to see this as an indication of how poor a mother Laura had been, but it simply made Rose seem heartless.
Certainly there are two sides to every story especially in as complex a relationship as mother and daughter, but Mr.Holtz doesn't give Laura's side any hearing. He interprets Rose's stream of conciousness scribbles and bitter diary entries as meaning that Laura was a bad mother, though Rose never says any such thing. Never mind that these notes were never meant for publication or even to be seen by anyone besides Rose herself. Never mind that we've all had moments in which we may have seen our childhood or our parents in a dim light. Mr.Holtz takes a number of small facts and embroiders them to prove his point. Rose was Great, Laura was Small. Rose was talented, Laura was not. Why is it that in order to praise Rose he felt he must insult Laura?
As for his theory regarding the writership of the books, the evidence is thin indeed.
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