‘Plagued by Fire’ by Paul Hendrickson

‘Plagued by Fire’ by Paul Hendrickson

WHO: Frank Lloyd Wright

The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright,
a new biography by Paul Hendrickson

WHEN: Published by Knopf October 1, 2019

WHERE: The author lives in Washington DC and outside Philadelphia.

WHY: “Henderson’s inspired storytelling is worthy of its subject.
“Frank Lloyd Wright was a genius, an egotist, and a man tormented by conscience and regret. In this resurrection of the architect life, Paul Hendrickson takes an oft-told story and turns into into a braid of multiple narratives that portray Wright’s family, lovers, clients, and enemies, all charmed and cursed by the spell of an extraordinarily gifted man.
“Award-winning writer, professor, and journalist Hendrickson is a researcher of unquenchable curiosity. He peels away layers of myth from the lives of Wright’s wives and lovers, notably Mamah Borthwick Cheney, a client who fell in love with Wright and was brutally murdered, along with her two children and four workmen, at Wright’s Wisconsin home of Taliesin. He follows the faint trail of Cheney’s killer. He documents the tragedies that dogged numerous Wright clients, including unexplained deaths and suicides, and fires that damaged or destroyed many Wright creations.
“As Hendrickson travels the arc of Wright’s life, his investigation into its deepest mysteries achieves a powerful momentum.”
—Mary Ann Gwinn, in a starred review for BOOKLIST

Jacket photo

In a way, this is a book about standing at stones.

Frank Lloyd Wright was born two years after the end of the Civil War and died not quite two years after the launch of Sputnik — ninety-one years and ten months on the earth. In the approximate middle of that near-century span, on August 15, 1914, when he was forty-seven, the greatest architect America has yet produced suffered a personal catastrophe that would have destroyed a man of lesser will and lesser ego, although perhaps that is just saying the same thing twice. A crazed black servant named Julian Carlton set fire to Wright’s home, Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and went about murdering or fatally wounding seven people, one of whom was the woman Wright deeply loved and had been living with “indecently” for the past several years, even as his own decent (and denying) wife, down in Oak Park, Illinois, kept praying he’d somehow come to his moral senses and return to his family. “Now a blow had fallen like the lightning stroke,” Wright wrote years later in his autobiography, which is one of the great memoirs of the twentieth century even if you must distrust it on every page. “In thirty minutes the house and all in it had burned to the stone work or to the ground.”

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Knopf. With 24 photos.
600 pages. $35 ISBN 978-0-385-35365-6

To interview the author, contact: Emily Reardon | 212-572-2018 | ereardon@penguinrandomhouse.com