The First Four Years cover

The First Four Years


The First Four Years is an autobiographical novel by Laura Ingalls Wilder, published in 1971 and commonly considered the last of nine books in the Little House series. The series had initially concluded at eight children's novels following Wilder to mature age and her marriage with Almanzo Wilder. Roger Lea MacBride found the work in the belongings of Wilder's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, while going through her estate after her death in 1968. Wilder wrote all of her books in pencil on dime store tablets, and this one's manuscript was found in manuscript form as Wilder had written it.It is not clear whether Wilder intended this first draft to be a ninth book in the Little House series, or possibly a standalone novel for adults. Much of the material is more for an adult audience than anything in her Little House books. She seems to have written the extant first draft sometime around 1940, and then apparently lost interest in the project. MacBride, Lane's adopted grandson, and executor of her estate, made a decision to publish this novel without any editing (except for minor spelling errors) so it came directly from Wilder's pencil to the written page. Because she never reworked the manuscript - and Lane never edited it as she had her mother's previously published works, the novel is less polished in style than the books of the Little House series, but it is still unmistakably Wilder's writing.
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series: Little House on the Prairie
original title: The First Four Years
date of publication: 1971
genre: novel
narrative location: South Dakota
followed by: On the Way Home

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