Chris Woodside is a writer and editor who lives in the lower Connecticut River Valley and explores the higher country of New England. She writes about the history of ordinary Americans and their clashes with nature. Her favorite topics are the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, backcountry adventure, and the American way of life.
Her new book is out—Arcade Publishing has produced a biography many years in the making, Libertarians on the Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Making of the Little House Books. Chris takes apart a myth that the settlement of the frontier in the 1880s was mainly a courageous story of individualism. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the Little House books with her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, a mover in the libertarian movement, and the books emphasized the values of independence and economic freedom.
Libertarians on the Prairie News and Events:
Chris's book launch party at the historic Hyland House in Guilford, Connecticut, Tuesday, October 4 was a great success! Thanks to the Hyland House, Breakwater Books, and Jenifer McShane for organizing this event! For those who ordered books after we ran out and want their books signed, please contact Chris via this website or at Breakwater Books.
Another great review here.
Mary Pilon interviews Chris in this Longreads piece on Melissa Gilbert, politics, and the Little House phenomenon.
Historian Neil J. Young recommends Libertarians on the Prairie in Episode 51 of the Past Present Podcast. In the section called "What's Making History."
Chris will speak at the Wheeler Library in North Stonington, Connecticut, at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 30, 2017.
The Guilford Free Library in Guilford, Connecticut, will host a talk by Chris at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 2, 2017.
Chris will speak with Herbert Hoover scholar David Davenport on a panel at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa, 1:30 p.m. August 5, 2017. She and Davenport will explore threads of "rugged individualism" and conservative thought in their subjects, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane,and Herbert Hoover, with whom Rose Wilder Lane corresponded for many years.
Chris was born in Philadelphia at the tail end of the baby boom, fourth of five children. The family moved to Princeton, New Jersey when she was four. She grew up in the public schools of her hometown, and studied American civilization at the University of Pennsylvania. There she also devoted untold hours to the Daily Pennsylvanian. That training led her to newspapers large and small for 18 years. She has been self-employed, writing magazine articles and books, since 2000.
Chris is the editor of Appalachia journal, the mountaineering publication with the literary bent published since 1876 by the Appalachian Mountain Club. She has helped give a start to emerging writers and worked with established writers. Chris's own stories in Appalachia include a profile of the Episcopal priest who first climbed Denali, a portrait of Appalachian Trail thru-hiker guru Warren Doyle, and a personal essay on her 1987 AT thru-hike with her husband and two friends. Read that story here. Learn more about her approach to editing wilderness essays in this favorite blog interview (by Sandy Stott) here.
She edits Connecticut Woodlands magazine for the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, the venerable trail-maintaining and conservation nonprofit.
Chris lives in a yellow house built in 1880. She always dreamed of living in a little yellow house. For more on Chris's life and its influences on her writing, see the Woodside Field Guide.