The Martha and Charlotte Books by Melissa Wiley

September 16, 2007 @ 9:30 am | Filed under:

The Martha Years books are a series of four novels written by Melissa Wiley about Laura Ingalls Wilder‘s great-grandmother, Martha Morse Tucker.

Martha was born in Scotland; her father was a small landowner, a laird. She emigrated to America and was married to a Scotsman named Lewis Tucker in Boston on January 1, 1799. Among their children was a girl named Charlotte, who would grow up to marry Henry Quiner and give birth to Laura Ingalls WIlder’s mother, Caroline.

Charlotte’s story is told in the Charlotte Years books.

Books about Martha Morse:

Little House in the Highlands
The Far Side of the Loch
Down to the Bonny Glen
Beyond the Heather Hills

Resources and activities for exploring Scotland with Martha

Books about Charlotte Tucker:

Little House by Boston Bay

On Tide Mill Lane

The Road from Roxbury

Across the Puddingstone Dam

Charlotte Years resource and activity page

   Farside      Heatherhills2



Is it true the Martha and Charlotte books have been abridged by the publisher? Why?

Yes. Here is a Bonny Glen post explaining the publisher’s decision, as well as my decision not to continue writing books in the series. There are more details in the follow-up post, here.

How can I tell the difference between the original editions and the abridged ones?

The originals have painted covers, as shown above. The abridged versions have photographic covers.

Oh no! Is The Road from Roxbury (unabridged) already out of print? I can’t find it at Amazon.

Try smaller booksellers such as those affiliated with the various Little House museum sites around the country. Whenever I hear about a source, I post a link in the Little House category at Bonny Glen.

Is it true they are getting rid of the Garth Williams illustrations in Laura’s books?

Only in the new paperback editions with the photographic covers. The Garth Williams art will still appear in the hardcover editions of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, as well as the colorized paperback editions.

Are Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books being abridged?

No, only the Martha, Charlotte, Caroline, and Rose books are being abridged.

How did you get started writing the Martha and Charlotte books?

I tell that story here.

Will there be any more books about Martha and Charlotte?

I don’t know. The publisher may decide to find another writer to continue the stories. I have decided not to continue working on the series in light of the publisher’s decision to abridge. I explain in more depth in this post, excerpted here:

One important point is that HarperCollins doesn’t think of the
abridgements as dumbed-down. I do, and that I am strongly opposed to
the dumbing-down of children’s literature must be obvious from my
decision to walk away from a series of books that has been my heart’s
work for the past decade. Although I came to the decision many months
ago, the shock of it still takes my breath away sometimes. I love
Martha and Charlotte, really love them. Like daughters. I
have written certain scenes between Martha and Lew in my mind a hundred
times. I’m sorry that I will not be sharing them with you, more sorry
than I can express.

My decision to quit also had serious ramifications for my family.
Had I continued with the series, we would still be living in Virginia;
Scott would still be a work-at-home freelancer. So quitting was not a
decision I made lightly; it had teeth.

And yet, if you read this blog then you know my stance on giving
children the highest caliber of literature—not a slimmed-down version
of what had been a carefully crafted novel. And so, when it became
clear that my publishers were committed to their decision to abridge, I
made what I believe to be the right decision—the only decision I could
have made. Doing the right thing, I tell my children, is almost never
the easy thing.

Certainly, this was a very hard thing to do.

But as I said, while I see the abridgement as dumbing-down, I must
say in all fairness that I don’t believe my publishers see it that way
at all. They see this as an opportunity to bring the books to a younger
audience, a way to keep the series in print. The decision was presented
to me with excitement and enthusiasm; I really think they were
surprised that I was dismayed by it.

I bear them no ill will; indeed, I shall be sorry not to be working
with my wonderful HarperCollins editor anymore. She is a gem. I simply
disagree, quite gravely, with this publishing decision.

Will you be writing more books (not about Martha or Charlotte)?

Oh yes! In fact, there is a new novel in the works…Watch this site for more details!

For more information about my source material and inspiration for the Martha and Charlotte books, explore the Little House archive here at Here in the Bonny Glen.

Martha illustration by Renee Graef. Charlotte illustration by Dan Andreasen.

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