The Real Nellie Oleson, Laura’s Prairie Frenemy

By Karen Harris
Alison Arngrim played Nellie Oleson in the TV series Little House on the Prairie. Source: (NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images)

If you were a fan of the Little House series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder or a fan of the 1970s TV show, Little House on the Prairie, then you no doubt remember Laura’s frenemy, Nellie Oleson, portrayed by Alison Arngrim on the TV show. The original mean girl, Nellie and her meddling mother were a constant source of aggravation for Laura and the rest of the Ingalls family, even their faithful dog, Jack. Nellie appeared in several of Wilder’s autobiographical books, first as a spoiled little rich girl and then as a wily teen trying to steal away Laura’s beau. Let’s take a look at the real Nellie Oleson who inspired the character in Laura’s books and on the television series.