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The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane
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The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane (Missouri Biography)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  408 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Laura Ingalls Wilder is one of the most beloved children’s authors of all time, but William Holtz contends that she may not have been the sole author of the Little House series that bore her name. While Laura’s life did serve as the inspiration for the books, Holtz believes that her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, actually took her mother’s memoirs and refurbished them into th ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by University of Missouri (first published 1993)
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Kressel Housman
May 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is the book that I mentioned in my review of Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman behind the Legend, the one that contends that Laura’s daughter Rose ghostwrote the Little House series. I read it with the expectation that the author would provide documentary evidence for his thesis, but unfortunately, the excerpts comparing Laura’s manuscripts to Rose’s edits are shown only in an appendix at the end. These particular excerpts do indeed support his thesis - Rose’s edits gave the text lif ...more
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All readers of The Little House Books
Shelves: memoir-biography
I'm a huge fan of the Little House Books, even more as an adult than I was as a child. I know that this book has met with a certain amount of disdain by other fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I found it fascinating. The author makes a compelling argument that Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, did so much rewriting of her mother's books that she could actually be considered the author.

Reading snippets of Laura's writings, then the finished project, it's clear that a skille
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lauraphilia
I guess I don't understand why this book has caused so much controversy. I love Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, but it doesn't really surprise nor offend me that she got narrative and other help from her journalist/novelist daughter. This biography of Rose Wilder Lane describes a life that is no less fascinating than her mother's well-known (though oft-fictionalized) journey.
Jun 27, 2008 rated it did not like it
By her own admission, Rose Wilder Lane was very often angry, bitter, and depressed. She was an incredibly intelligent, talented woman, as well, who had a lifelong love-hate, passive-aggressive relationship with her headstrong mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder. The author of this book seems intent on portraying Laura only as she was seen through the eyes of her frequently sullen, resentful daughter, and tries to convince his audience that it was Rose who wrote the Little House books. Anyone who has re ...more
Aug 31, 2007 rated it it was ok
Interesting story of the legacy the real Laura Ingalls Wilder--apparently very unHalfpint-like woman. Rather a stern and unfeeling woman .. very 19th century Protestant demeanor.

Rose Wilder Lane now, she was quite an interesting pioneer of the early 20th century Libertarian school of thought. She accomplished quite a bit with the handicap of depression, self-doubt and lack of formal education. I always believed she probably had a strong hand in what her mother did. LIW did write and was publish
Jul 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was curious about a lot of the controversy surrounding this book. Considering the mythos that has developed around Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family, a book that paints Laura as a cold and manipulative mother and dethrones her as the true author of the Little House books is going to rankle feathers. Of course, this book is not about Laura, but about Rose. After reading it, while I feel I have a good grasp of the development of her political theory, I fail to have an appreciation for a woman ...more
Katherine L
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
Excellent and thorough biography, but a bit hard to wade through

As anyone looking at my reading lists can see, I am currently in a "biographies of my favorite childhood authors" phase. I read this one right after reading "Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder" and becoming familiar with the collaboration between Laura and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, that gave the world the Little House books.

Despite the title of the book, the author does not spend extensive time weighing in on the ongoing and someti
Jun 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
A bio of Rose Wilder lane. I read only the first 3 or 4 chapters since Laura has pretty much disappeared by then The author makes a lot of Laura & Rose's mother/daughter difficulties, putting a lot of emphasis {blame?) on Laura's (deliberate?) misunderstanding and neglect of Rose. The implication is that the problems were caused by Laura's bad attitude. In thinking about it, I get the feeling that when Rose was small, Laura was watching her dreams die even as she worked herself practically t ...more
May 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kidlit-history
This was one of my first choices for book club this year, but alas, with only one copy in the public library, it just wasn't available enough to be a choice.
But holy cow, what a great book club book this would be! Rose was an amazing woman--she traveled extensively throughout her life, including visiting Baghdad in the early 1920s. The snippets of writing from letters, journals and published works reveal a strong, independent mind.
And oh yes, she's the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Their mot
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is an exhaustive biography of Rose Wilder Lane, who had a long and complicated life. A lot of readers have problems with this book because the author postulates that Rose had a hand in writing the Little House books for her mother. I think people are missing the point. The author does give proof that Rose did edit sections of the books, but she had to have material to start with, and that was supplied to her by Laura herself. This question of the Little House books takes up about 20 pages o ...more
Kathy Kramer
Jul 26, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
Despite the controversy surrounding this book and the author's assertions, I decided to give this book a try. I could not finish it, not because of the subject matter, but because the author's writing style was terrible. I hadn't made it to his arguments in favor of the idea that the Little House books were ghostwritten when I stopped, so I can't comment on the author's specific allegations. However, having read some of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Missouri Ruralist writings and a couple of Rose Wilde ...more
Megan Lavey-Heaton
Feb 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I find it hard to believe Holtz's theory that Laura had no writing talent at all -- given that she had written for the Missouri Ruralist for years -- and that Rose was the sole responsible person for the Little House series. The parts about Rose herself was fascinating. The slandering of Laura (and to a lesser degree, Almanzo) was not.
Mar 24, 2008 rated it liked it
This is an exhaustive biography, so if you read it, don't think you'll get through it quickly. RWL was a huge fan of correspondence, and the author and various libraries have managed to collect so many of her letters, that this could have almost been an autobiography.

I found myself alternating between complete admiration (her world travels, alone, as a woman, at a time when women didn't do that sort of thing...and the incredible danger of it all) or pity (she often seems so very alone, and so m
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Holtz wrote a fascinating book in which he suggests that Rose was really the writer of the Little House books. I have read almost all of Laura's work and atleast one of Rose's books. Laura's diaries seem very different from her storybooks but I would expect that. Rose's novel seems similar in plot to the Little House books but I did not find her storytelling as enthralling as Laura's. Maybe it was all by design. Regardless, They are all great stories of another time period that adults as well as ...more
Becki Basley
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a long read but extremely interesting. Of course, growing up, I had read all the Little House books and thought a lot of Rose's mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Imagine my surprise to learn that her daughter, Rose was actually more famous than she was in her time and that Rose had continued writing until her death. And that she lived in Connecticut! She was preparing to go to Vietnam to cover the conflict when she died. Rose was a spitfire who even stood up against the government and she i ...more
Aug 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Amazing, tremendously underrated woman. Was she or wasn't she the ghostwriter behind the Little House books? Holtz makes the argument that she is. RWL's mother Laura Ingalls Wilder is portrayed as an imperfect human being with harsh sides of her personality which I think is understandable, given what she faced in her early life.
Dec 21, 2008 rated it did not like it
I really didn't like this one. Holz's thesis that Rose Wilder Lane was the ghost writer of the Little House books is pretty extreme, and stretches a great deal of the evidence and ignores other things. He also seemed to be deadset upon portraying Laura Ingalls Wilder as a horrible mother, who was incredibly manipulative of her daughter. I wish this book had been written by a less-biased author.
Feb 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored this book. I came to it simply as a LHOTP fan but quickly became enraptured with Rose Lane. What an amazing life and writer. I am looking forward to reading some of her own writings next.
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Did Rose Wilder Lane ghost write the Little House books as his book claims? In my opinion, no. Rose was a writer, she collaborated with her mother and edited her mother's work.
Jan 11, 2013 rated it liked it
As many of you know, I am a Laura Ingalls Wilder groupie. Her books were influential to me in becoming a reader, a teacher and loving history. And my oldest daughter was named...Laura (also after my Auntie Laura ). I read this a few weeks ago...Laura's daughter Rose was a woman ahead of her time...she left home at the age of 17 in 1904 to become a working girl, married for a short time then divorced, and lived her life being a writer and traveling the world. She was also very passionate about po ...more
Jun 10, 2010 rated it liked it
A big step in my Ingalls-Wilder obsession - this is an academic biography of Rose. The author really glosses over her childhood to a great extent - I'd love to know how those years compared to the MacBride books, but there's nothing here. He casts the Laura-Rose / mother-daughter relationship as a very strained emotional tug-of-war, but on the other hand, doesn't really have a lot of insight into it. I found a lot of the travel and political sections surprisingly dull, actually. This is a nice s ...more
Sep 07, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a really tedious biography; however, I definitely feel like I know who Rose Wilder Lane was as a person.
This book is well-known for purporting that Rose ghost-wrote most of the Little House books. As its claim to fame, I expected this book to focus a little more on the writing process and producing evidence that this was the case.
If you pick up the book looking for that, you can skip to the epilogue and the appendix containing passages from the books as written by Laura, and then by Rose
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
I know this wasn't popular with LIW fans when it came out (Wilder isn't portrayed in the most positive light), but I found many of the Holtz's claims on authorship of the little house books to be fairly persuasive. I do think he had a tendency to take RWL's opinions as the gospel,so I'm not sure how accurate his depiction of Wilder was.
Bridget R. Wilson
Jun 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm readig this because of Borrowed Names. I'm intrigued by the idea that Rose was the true genius behind the Little House books. I'll let you know what I discover.

I only skimmed the last bit of the book. It's hard to believe that the Little House books wouldn't be what they are if Rose Wilder Lane hadn't edited and revised them.
Feb 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
Well worth reading if you are a Little House fan -- a very academic biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder's daughter, Rose. Rose herself led a very interesting life and, according to William Holtz, is the ghost writer that made the Little House books what they are.
Dec 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This books supports the idea that Rose Wilder Lane actually wrote the Little House Books in addition to her mother and should be credited with authorship in addition to her mother. Her life as a reporter and writer is very fascinating as the author discusses her travels and writing.
Dec 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Not too sure...Rose didn't come across as a person I would have liked had I met her, and this made it hard for me to continue with the book. I did skip some pages here and there, and LIW came across as a not-so-nice woman. Not really sure what to think!!
Apr 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-libraries
How growing up as the daughter of a famous historical fiction writer who used her own family's history as source material affected the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. What was Rose's life really like? Here's her answer.
Jan 22, 2008 marked it as to-read
Something about winter always makes me want to dig out my old kids books and read them. On one of the forums I frequent, someone mentioned this in the "Little House" thread.
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Read this years ago and found it a fascinating and eye-opening account of not only Rose Wilder Lane but her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder.
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