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A Work of Fiction

While writing The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide, I emphasized that Wilder based the books on the real people and places in her life, but she did fictionalize the books. 
"All I have told is true, but it is not the whole truth."

Laura Ingalls Wilder stated, "All I have told is true, but it is not the whole truth," during a speech at the Detroit Book Fair in 1937, prior to her fame, though certainly a popular children's book author. It was at that time that On the Banks of Plum Creek was published.

Many assume because her children's fiction was based on her life, it was an autobiography. However, it is only autobiographical fiction, much like the Betsy-Tacy books. Not only did she change the truth to create better stories, but she also altered the truth for her audience of children.

What was fact? What was fiction? I've shared a few Little House fact or fiction blog posts and included lots more in my book The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion (affiliate link). It's been a popular feature that kids and adults have appreciated. Here are just a few to make you curious! 

The Long Winter

Was that long, hard winter really just a series of blizzards? Laura Ingalls Wilder's memory of The Long Winter was surprisingly accurate. 

Nellie Oleson

Nellie Oleson never existed. Really. But you can read about three girls who Wilder based Nellie's character

Jack the Brindle Bulldog's Death

Jack's death was described in By the Shores of Silver Lake. In Pioneer Girl (LIW's autobiography,), Laura shares when the horses Pet and Patty were traded for a larger pair of horses, Jack wanted to stay with Pet and Patty. Pa included Jack in the trade. Though I included it here, I did not share it with my book since it's written for children. They don't need to know everything! 

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~ Annette Whipple
Annette Whipple is a nonfiction children's author. Learn more about her books and presentations at