History In Ink®  Historical Autographs





Laura Ingalls Wilder


The renowned children’s author handwrites and signs personalized poems

to include in first edition, first printings of Little Town on the Prairie

for Christmas 1941

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder, 1867–1957.  American author.  First edition copies of Little Town on the Prairie with exceptionally rare original, personalized handwritten poems, signed Sincerely your friend / Laura Ingalls Wilder, tipped in.

For Christmas in 1941, two boys’ grandfather gave each of them a copy of Wilder’s latest book, Little Town on the Prairie.  The grandparents lived in Arkansas, and the grandmother, we understand, wrote to Wilder at her home at Mansfield, Missouri, to ask for her autograph for the boys.  Wilder responded by writing and signing individualized poems for the boys, which she then mailed back.  The grandparents tipped the poems onto the front free endpapers of the books. 

These matching volumes came directly from the family and had never been offered on the autograph market until we acquired them.  In them, Wilder has written, complete with a misspelled word:

Dear Douglas

May your life be long and happy,

May your acts be brave and fine,

May you win all worth the winning,

Is this ernest [sic] wish of mine.

Sincerely your friend

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Dear David

“Every cloud has a silver lining”

Is a saying old and true;

That you may always quickly find it,

Is the wish I wish for you.

Sincerely your friend

Laura Ingalls Wilder

These are stated first editions of this book.  The notation “K–Q” on the back of the title page shows that Harper & Brothers printed the books in October 1941.  The books were, then, new just in time for Christmas.

This book, the seventh in Wilder’s Little House series, tells the story of the small prairie town where Wilder lived as a teenager.  The dust jacket synopsis says that this “little settlement that weathered the long hard winter of 1880–81 has become a growing town.  There is a wonderful Fourth of July celebration, and Laura goes to her first evening social. . . . Almanzo Wilder asks permission to walk home from church with Laura, and exchanges with her the fashionable new ‘name cards.’  At the end Laura, now fifteen, receives her certificate to teach school.”  

Wilder has penned these personalized poems for “Dear Douglas” and “Dear David” an signed them in grayish-black fountain pen.  She has written the poems on horizontal pieces of paper approximately 4” x 6” in size.  A horizontal fold in each piece of paper, from where Wilder mailed it to the boys’ grandmother, affects a bit of text but not Wilder’s signature. 

The books themselves are virtually pristine.  The tan cloth-covered hardback binding, which includes an illustration, is clean and boldly imprinted in dark red on both the cover and the spine.  The endpapers are decorated in red with images of flowers, strawberries, and leaves.  The book is illustrated by Helen Sewell, the earliest illustrator of Wilder’s books, and co-illustrator Mildred Boyle, with a color frontispiece and 14 black-and-white illustrations.  The original color dust covers, also illustrated with a drawing by Boyle, show a tiny bit of soiling, edge chipping, and shelf wear but is in fine condition overall.  There is a note in black fountain pen on the half title page reading “To Douglas /  from Grampa / Christmas 1941.” 

Even unsigned first edition copies of this book are very scarce, and more so with a dust jacket.  These, with the original poems that Wilder wrote especially for insertion into them, are exceptionally rare.



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