Our Recommended Reading for Children & Young Adults and Recommended Reading for Adults articles have been popular resources for readers interested in Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie. Here is a brief overview of Free Land.
Author: Rose Wilder Lane
Publisher: Bison Books; Reprint edition (October 1, 1984)
In the 1880s, when adventure lay in the conquest of the prairies, David Beaton and his bride came to Dakota to claim three hundred acres of grassland. Rose Wilder Lane tells of their struggle to survive with such force that Free Land has become a classic frontier novel. The young couple experience cyclones, droughts, and blizzards that isolate them for days in their sod shanty and endanger their livestock. The simple pleasures of home cooking, horse trading, and socializing interrupt work, here described in its wealth of variety. In every detail, Free Land comes to life because Lane grew up in the time and place of which she writes. The book embodies her belief that “living is never easy, that all human history is a record of achievement in disaster, and that our great asset is the valor of the American spirit.” Like the Beatons of this novel, Rose Wilder Lane’s parents homesteaded in Dakota. Lane was a successful novelist and journalist when, in the 1930’s, she encouraged and helped her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, to write the Little House on the Prairie books that were later dramatized for television.
About the Author: Rose Wilder Lane
Rose Wilder Lane (1886-1968), was a prolific fiction writer, biographer and political theorist, as well as the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House series of children’s books. Lane’s skillful editing and publishing connections assisted her mother in making the transition from rural Ozark journalist to world-renowned children’s author. Lane had left her parent’s impoverished Missouri farm at the age of 17 and soon began to make her mark on the world. After a stint as a Western Union telegrapher, she sold real estate in California and later began a successful career as a reporter for the San Francisco Bulletin. Her 1918 divorce from Gillette Lane, after several years of separation, officially ended a relationship that had never recovered from the death of an infant son around 1910. She never remarried. After her divorce, Lane continued to carve out a successful career as a writer of novels, short stories, biographies and tales of her extensive world travels. Her work as a war correspondent dated from post-WWI Europe to a tour of Vietnam in 1965 (when she was nearly 80 years old). She was a well-known literary figure of her day. Later in life, Lane’s writing focused on her increasing political conservatism, her distaste of Communism, Socialism and any other form of government that denied the freedom of the individual. She is widely regarded as one of the leading figures behind what has grown into the American Libertarian Party. Among her many works are Free Land, Young Pioneers, Diverging Roads, and Give Me Liberty.
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