I didn’t title this post this way, but this is really my Mentions May 2022 post. I have one citing in the wild this month and it’s on one of my favorite websites.
She Never Wrote It
If you are a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan or heavens, at this point even if you aren’t a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, you’ve probably come across this quote: “Home is the Nicest Word There Is.” It’s all over the place. Mostly because realtors and others selling “things to make a house a home” have taken it as a very convenient line to put on their photos of houses or cozy interior shots and then share them out on social media. Quote machine sites love it, it’s short and pithy and easily categorized. So you’ll see it turn up as one of the most famous things that Laura Ingalls Wilder ever wrote. Just one problem….she never wrote it.
Then Who Did?
Now I could write up a post about this (in fact I think I am right now), but I wanted to have something more authoritative looking, not just me, saying where it was from. The quote is from a 1974 episode of Little House on the Prairie. In character as Laura Ingalls Melissa Gilbert delivered the line “Home is the nicest word there is.” John Hawkins and William Putman wrote the script for the episode. As executive producer Michael Landon saw himself as all powerful on the production side and the actors talk about his efforts at control often over-ruling others. So, could this be something Landon himself added? Could be, but most likely it was by Hawkins and Putnam.
I keep thinking about this and honestly if you’ve decided it’s fine that’s OK because I’ll never change your mind. But I keep thinking about it and I think I came up with a better example to explain why some people hate people crediting it to Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’ve seen people say it’s just crediting the character and it’s no big deal. The difference between a character saying something and crediting the character is that Laura Ingalls Wilder is a real person. For example, in Star Wars Han Solo says “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” It would be like people were writing everywhere “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” – Harrison Ford. And every time you turned around there would be another thing crediting Harrison Ford. (And yes, a direct example of this it would be if they were crediting Melissa Gilbert, but it’s really the same idea. In either case the real life person wouldn’t really have anything to do with it.)
Where Can I Direct People To?
So Quote Investigator is a website that tracks down the history and who said famous quotes. They don’t just pick the popular answer, but they strive to document the first known source and track it down. I asked them to do a piece on the home quote and they agreed.
“Home Is the Nicest Word There Is.” Quote Investigator, 28 May 2022, quoteinvestigator.com/2022/05/28/home-nicest. Accessed 9 June 2022.
You’ll find a paragraph thanking me at the bottom.
If you want to relive my meeting Melissa Gilbert, here it is:
UPDATED January 31 2023: This just came up again in an online group and once again a bunch of people are saying it’s not a problem. I came up with an example I think is clearer about Han Solo and Harrison Ford and added it above.
Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.