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Wright the Man is Chronicled Here
on December 17, 2005
Wright the man is chronicled here, in one of the two best biographies of the architectural superstar. One would also want to read Brendan Gill's "Many Masks" as a companion to Ms Secrest's treatment of F Ll W - just to get the harmonizing flavors of opinion.
Ms Secrest does magnificent research and shares it in a narrative that flows easily and keeps one's attention. Her information about Wright's family tree, as well as the family background of his wives and Mrs. Cheney, is more thoroughly presented than I have seen elsewhere.
One must not expect a thorough critique of Wright's buildings here -- there are too many works to be considered and there are many other resources, old and new, for such explorations. "In the Nature of Materials" leaps to mind. However, this book does flesh out the man and in some ways dispels some of the outlandish tales and outright fabrications about his life, toward which Wright was oft inclined.
It should be noted that Secrest is one of the Wright biographers who mistakenly limit the contributions of Isabel Roberts, who was a draughtsman/architect in her own right. She defines Roberts' roll simply as: "Isabel Roberts, secretary ". She cannot be faulted too much, having swallowed the red herring presented by Frank Lloyd Wright himself when writing about the Oak Park "...studio adjoining my home, where the work I had then to do enabled me to take in several draughtsmen and a faithful secretary, Isabel Roberts..." In future, Wright biographers would be wise to consult research done by John A. Dalles presented in his article, "The Pathbreaking Legacy of Ryan and Roberts", in "Reflections", the journal of the Historical Society of Central Florida, Summer 2009; pages 8 and 9.
You may wish to read Wright's disingenuous "An Autobiography" (1943) as well as some of the family books - "The Valley of the God-Almighty Joneses: Reminiscences of Frank Lloyd Wright's Sister, by Maginel Wright Barney, 1986, and his son, John Lloyd Wright's "My Father Who Is On Earth", G P Putnam Sons, NY, 1946. But consider this a mostly reliable guide to Mr. Wright's long and theatrical life.