OF THE BABY NAME LAURA
Laura Fairlie is the heroine of Wendell Wilkie’s early mystery novel, The Woman in White, published in book form in 1860. Laura, good Victorian daughter that she is, has promised her father on his deathbed that she will wed Lord Percival Glyde, even though she is in love with the impoverished artist, Walter Hartright. There is a mysterious woman in white who appears and warns against her upcoming marriage, but Laura is reluctant to go back on her word. Naturally, her husband is evil incarnate; naturally, there is danger and deceit enough to go around; naturally, there is a secret of birth at the center of all which will serve to release our heroine and set things right on the course to true love. In the meantime, however, we are tempted to exhort the lovely Laura to be more like her half-sister, Marian, who has the good sense to exclaim in exasperation: "No man under heaven deserves these sacrifices from us women." Ah well, perfection is not always attainable, especially for 19th century women – but she does have a great name, does our Laura.
Laura is the title character of Vera Caspary’s 1943 novel, Laura, which found its true fame and longevity through the 1944 Otto Preminger noir classic movie, starring the beauteous Gene Tierney in the title role. The movie begins with a police detective investigating the murder of the beautiful Laura, during the course of which he interviews her friends, family, household help and colleagues, and pieces together a picture of Laura and the story of her rise to success. He also happens to fall in love with her along the way – or the idea of her. Needless to say, there is a case of mistaken identity at the core of this murder mystery, and our intrepid detective solves it – thus clearing the way for him to truly love Laura in the flesh. And she is just a good and true and beautiful as everyone had said. The lilting air, “Laura”, haunts us throughout the movie, promising a vision of loveliness that does, in fact, come to pass. (The song became a popular standard, which has been performed by no fewer than four hundred recording artists.)
Laura Ingalls Wilder is the author of the beloved and wildly popular “Little House” series of books, written in the 1930s and 40s, with some being published post-humously. They have been continually in print since then. They are the tales of her life in the Ingalls family in the 19th century frontier. Beloved by children of several generations, they gained new audiences with the television series produced by and starring Michael Landon in the 1970s and 80s. The books are a vivid and charming evocation of a time in American history and culture that is long gone and that is eternally fascinating, as seen through the eyes of an intelligent and curious little girl from a loving, if struggling, family of the prairie .