Free Land

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Free Land
First edition published as a book
Author Rose Wilder Lane
Cover artist John O'Hara Cosgrove II[1]
Country United States
Genre Western, realistic fiction
Publisher Longmans, Green, and Co.
Publication date
May 4, 1938[2]
Media type Print (serial, hardcover)
Pages 332 pp.[3] (or 322)[1]
OCLC 1193588
LC Class PZ3.L244 Fr PS3523.A553[3]

Free Land is a novel by Rose Wilder Lane that features American homesteading during the 1880s in what is now South Dakota. It was published in The Saturday Evening Post as a serial during March and April 1938[4] and then published as a book by Longmans.[1][3]


The newlywed Beatons migrate to Dakota Territory during the 1880s to claim 300 acres (1.2 km2) of grassland. But their struggle to survive includes brutal isolation from the rest of the world as cyclones and blizzards hit, and drought challenges their ability to live off their land.

Historical background[edit]

The author, Rose Wilder Lane, grew up herself in the time and place of which she writes. Her parents homesteaded in Dakota. Many of the events described in the book, actually happened to either her parents (Laura Ingalls Wilder and Almanzo Wilder), or her grandparents (Caroline and Charles Ingalls). The book is similar in a way to the Little House series, only it is darker and more serious.[5]


Kirkus Reviews published a starred review concluding, "It is a vigorous and moving story – a slice out of the American scene. And eminently readable." Regarding its 1933 predecessor in particular, it "[bears] perhaps too close a resemblance to Let The Hurricane Roar in general pattern and some details, but [shows] a distinct advance in handling."[2]


Free Land was adapted as a radio drama starring Martha Scott (1914–2003), whose audio recording was distributed for American Armed Forces only as a 1973 LP record.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Free Land and Other Recent Works of Fiction: Rose Wilder Lane's Simple and Moving Story of Dakota Homesteaders [...]". Margaret Wallace. The New York Times. May 15, 1938. Page 95.
     Quote: Our novelists ... are going back (in the face of a crumbling civilization in Europe) to their own family pasts. They express both apology and defiance. They express, in American terms, the new nationalism which is sweeping the world. ...
     Quote: Mrs Lane tells of her own family on the jacket.
  2. ^ a b "Free Land by Rose Wilder Lane". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2015-07-29.  Starred review. No issue date.
  3. ^ a b c "Free land" (first edition). Library of Congress Online Catalog ( Retrieved 2015-09-17.
  4. ^ "Rose Wilder Lane Papers: Scope and Content Note". Research ( Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum; National Archives and Records Administration ( Retrieved 2015-07-29.  With lengthy biographical preface.
      The Hoover site includes a Laura Ingalls Wilder subsite,
  5. ^ Michelle McClellan (interview by UHP). "Two Pioneers: Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane". The Ultimate History Project ( Retrieved 2015-07-29. 
  6. ^ "Free land (Sound recording)". LC Online Catalog. Retrieved 2015-09-17.