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Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography
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Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  250 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Meryle Secrest's Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography focuses on Wright's family history, personal adventures, and colorful friends and family. Secrest had unprecedented access to an archive of over one hundred thousand of Wright's letters, photographs, drawings, and books. She also interviewed surviving devotees, students, and relatives. The result is an explicit portrait of b ...more
Paperback, 652 pages
Published May 8th 1998 by University of Chicago Press (first published 1992)
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I set out to read just one book about F LL Wright to gain knowledge of his career and life. After reading reviews of different books, I decided to go with this straight shooting biography. There are many books about his designs, and we had visited his first home and studio in Oak Park last summer, so I was looking for something to offset that.

I was NOT disappointed. This book, in addition to following the development of his designs and career, also has many of the messier, cruder details, start
David J Gill
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Meryle Secrest is a good story teller (a talent for narrative not for making things up) and Wright gives her a lot of material to dig into. Sections of this book on Wright's antics are frankly hilarious. But Wright's life is also wrenching, heroic, mesmerizing, profound, impossible to interpret and unbelievable by turns. Some conclude that he was just a horrible person. He had a talent for invective and self invention and could not share the spotlight with anyone, but was more to the man than se ...more
Ray Foote
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was what I think a biography should be - objective and extremely detailed
This book is a brick, but it is riveting the entire way through. It does one of my least favorite things that biographies do -- that is to give a brief version of the entire life and death of the subject at the outset -- but even that is done very well. Starting with Lloyd Wright's ancestors in Wales, every major personality in this history is fleshed out so that when the relationships are recounted, everyone seems like a real person. This is especially important when it comes to his wives, who ...more
Joan Colby
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the definitive Wright biography. Secrist writes well and thoroughly of Wright’s professional and personal life. What struck me is how, due to “Loving Frank” so much is made of Wright’s romance with Mamah Cheney (which was short-lived due to her murder)—even Taliesen offers a “Loving Frank” tour, when his attachments to his first wife Catherine, his second the venomous Miriam Noel and his final to Olgivanna were of greater duration. Olgivanna probably had the strongest effect on Wright’s ...more
Dec 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Okay, I admit I skimmed this book for information about his love life. Anyway, it's very detailed on *all* aspects of his life. Kind of makes me never want to write a biography - so much fact-finding/checking/recording!
Michael Mccabe
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very readable biography. The author did a nice job of finding themes in FLW's upbringing that may have led to some of his peculiar characteristics.
May 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was informative, but it was also wordy and tedious. It was a relief to finish it!
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I bought this book about a decade ago after a trip to Taliesen and finally got around to reading it. I don't remember anything about the tour of Taliesen, but it would be interesting to go back after reading this book. This is a very thorough biography of a fairly unlikable man. Wright was self-centered, childish and unfaithful, yet a great artist. Secrest treats her subject objectively, showing the strengths and weaknesses of the man and his architecture. She also does a great job of treating t ...more
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Overall, this was an excellent biography detailing the life of an architectural genius who was also a self-centered, overbearing person. The book starts a bit slowly with the author laboriously going over FLW's Welsh ancestry and Welsh-influenced background to the point that it's almost painful, but hang in there. After the author is done with that, she does a wonderful job of bringing the architect and his times to life. I found her account absolutely fascinating, and could not put this book do ...more
Feb 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
After having read two other books fairly recently about
Frank Lloyd Wright I wondered what this huge book was
going to teach me-but in the first few pages I found
out. There's material here (unfortunately in grinding
length) that needed to be documented and documented it
was. Somehow the author pored over apparently every
conversation, bill for ascots and aside ever spoken
about Frank Lloyd Wright and I'd be surprised if they
aren't all in fact here. It took a long, long time to
read and there was an asp
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
The problem with reading biographies is that, often, you come away with a distaste for the subject. I did not enjoy the style in which this book was written. I felt that the author fell in love with her research and was afraid to omit facts, no matter how marginal they were to understanding Wright. My takeaway was that Frank Lloyd Wright was a arrogant, self-centered, unfaithful and uneducated man who took advantage of friends, acquaintances and aspiring architects. He did not even attend his mo ...more
Andrew McClarnon
May 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Thorough examination of FLlW's life, with some excellent passages through career highlights, but emphasis was on the personal, rather than the professional. I'd have enjoyed more consideration of the buildings and changes in his style - though there are plenty of other books about him and his work.
Jan 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
This bio of the famous man tells the creative, self centeredness and beauty of the life of this architect. After a visit to Falling Water I got interested in the man behind the innovative designs. He had a colorful life with tragedy, success and acclaim. Worth the read.
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I thought I was never going to finish this book! I bought this book at the gift shop at Taliesin West on a trip to Arizona. I enjoy Wright's architecture and wanted to read more about his personal life. This book covers both. However, the details can get quite tedious.
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Teaching a course with frank lloyd wright as the focus this semester. Time to learn more about the man!
Nov 14, 2008 marked it as to-read
After reading Loving Frank, I was curious to learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright. This book was recommended by Nancy Horan (author of Loving Frank).
Aug 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Good, but I would have preferred a bit more about his personal life. It is a bit of a slog to read about architecture rather than looking at it.
Sep 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting read.
Aug 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book about a very interesting and talented man.
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The book that made me begin to hate Frank Lloyd Wright (horrible person; brilliant architect).
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
M. Secrest's biography includes unparalleled insights from Wright's own letters, as well as so many others. It made the book both engaging and heartbreaking.
Nov 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Great information...but way more in-depth than I was looking for. Didn't finish it - I like FLLW, but am not obsessed with him!
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It was good..... had to read it for school so you know. I'm not much of a biography reader (or any nonfic. for that matter) so I didn't really get into the book, but it was good.
Jan 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Near-excruciating detail. But some great insights - so far.
Jun 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
Slow book to read...did learn a lot about FLLW's life's events, but think the author spent too much time on not-so important details. Will compare it to "Many Masks" by Brendan Gill when finished..
Aug 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Looong biography of Wright, but full of details and information on his tumultuous life.
Charles Junior
rated it really liked it
Feb 08, 2018
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