On Rose Wilder Lane: Good news

The University of Missouri Press will be re-releasing The Rediscovered Writings of Rose Wilder Lane, Literary Journalist, in paperback in in September.

I couldn’t be more thrilled. This is a book that I put together while simultaneously working on my dissertation (which later became More than a Farmer’s Wife). It’s essentially a labor of love for Lane, who in life partnered with her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, to produce the Little House series of books for children. I’m honored that others have enjoyed it, too.

Lane’s always been a bit of a controversial figure in the world of Little House. Driven by arguments over how much she contributed to Wilder’s books, the controversy also extends to Lane’s apparent disdain for her home town of Mansfield, Mo., her tendency to be mercenary in her pursuit of paid publications, and her apparent inability to be personally tactful.

The controversy also extends to Lane’s political ideology. Her political thoughts, best expressed in her 1942 book The Discovery of Freedom: Man’s Struggle Against Authority, make it clear that she believed American ideology to be best expressed through the concept of freedom FROM government interference in the lives of everyday Americans. I can say, with certainty, that Lane did not then, nor would she now, support a police state.

While her work does not explicitly challenge the complications of race in American society, her steadfast belief in individualism, and the rights of individuals to have and use the tools at their disposal to their benefit, permeates much of her popular work as well. I’m currently working on research that analyzes race within her political framework, because it is significant that such an individualistic approach tends to “erase” the societal challenges of race.

The Rediscovered Writings offer readers a glimpse at Lane at her best, and her closing work, an article written from Vietnam and published in December 1965, appropriately finishes on a note that encapsulates her political ideology as well.

Lane remains relevant to the twenty-first century, and I hope this work finds a new audience as it heads into paperback.

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