I was recently asked “Why do you read fiction.” My first reaction is that it entertains me and that is absolutely true as I have spent many hours being entertained by novels. After some thought I realized that I like that fiction often leads me to seek out more information on a topic, place or person l, especially when it is historical fiction. This is how I became interested in Frank Lloyd Wright.
It all started with Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. Prior to reading this book, the extent of my knowledge of Wright was that he was a famous architect and that my husband had a slight fascination with his work. Reading the fictional representation of Wright’s relationship with Mamah Borthwick Cheney and the initial building of Taliesin, Wright’s home outside of Spring Green, Wisconsin, left me wanting to know more about Frank Lloyd Wright, the man and the architect.
I immediately checked out filmmaker, Ken Burn’s documentary on Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright, from the library’s DVD collection. My husband encouraged by my interest suggested places to tour.
On a trip to Chicago, we visited the suburb of Oak Park and toured the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Wright's private residence and workplace during his early career. Take an armchair tour with The Oak Park Home and Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright by Ann Abernathy.
We next vacationed in Wisconsin, with Taliesin being the first stop. The docents told the tour group that Horan had spent time there doing research for Loving Frank and how they felt she had done an excellent job getting the facts straight. We also heard about another author who did research there, T. Coraghassen Boyle, and his novel The Women, a fictionalized account of not only Wright’s mistress but his three wives. Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin and Taliesin West by Kathryn Smith showcases not only his Wisconsin home and studio, but another place we hope to visit, Taliesin West, Wright’s winter residence outside of Scottsdale, Arizona.
On a recent beach vacation we just happened to read in the local paper that Auldbrass, a private residence designed by Wright, was open for tours that weekend. We immediately made a reservation. Auldbrass: Frank Lloyd Wright's Southern Plantation by David G. De Long offers another visual tour.
In the future, high on our list of places to visit is Fallingwater, the home where Wright incorporated a natural waterfall in the design, which is detailed in Fallingwater rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E.J. Kaufmann, and America's Most Extraordinary House by Franklin Toker.
For biographical information on Wright go to the source himself Frank Lloyd Wright: an Autobiography, the 2004 Penguin Life biography Frank Lloyd Wright by Ada Louise Huxtable or William R. Drennan’s Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin murders .
I’m not sure how long this fascination will last but I am enjoying some nice vacations and I’ve even branched out to learn about other architects and architectural styles. All inspired by a novel.