Frank LINCOLN Wright

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DRN
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Post by DRN »

I received the following reply from Scott Perkins:
Hi Dan,

Meryle Secrest’s biography (1992) states it clearly on page 50: “One month later, on June 8, Anna gave birth to Frank Lincoln Wright.� And on page 79: “At about this time he changed his middle name from Lincoln to Lloyd.�

I also sent your email on to Keiran Murphy, the historian at Taliesin, to see if she can add more to the discussion. Will send you something when I hear back.

Scott
To which I replied:
Scott.
I guess the question now is where did Brendan Gill AND Meryle Secrest find the record of Frank Lincoln being the birth name?
As Mr. Gill is no longer with us, I'll try to reach out to Ms. Secrest.
Many thanks for the quick reply.
Dan
The bio on the Fallingwater website would seem to be based in part on Meryle Secrest's biography of FLW. Does anyone have contact with a well published biographer in her mid 80's from Bath, England?

peterm
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Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

Post by peterm »

From University Chicago Press:

“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.�

http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/boo ... 33159.html

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Wright-11218

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Mary Keiran Murphy is our own SpringGreen.

I await documentation; like the "birthers" I will accept a notarized birth certificate as tentative proof !

SDR

DRN
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Post by DRN »

Spring Green's email reply:
Dan has brought up a very good point and I agree with the problem. Gill gave the "Lincoln" assertion in "Many Masks" without any proof for that claim and it's filtered into the Wright world (just as Meryle Secrest's assertion that Wright's second wife might have had a morphine problem has become "Miriam was addicted to morphine"). DRN, on the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Chat Page, asked about this starting on January 10, 2018 in the post: Frank LINCOLN Wright. Another of the posters ("DavidC") wrote that, after a cursory search on Ancestry "[T]he earliest document I found was a 'Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922' that listed Wright at age 23 as being: 'Frank Lloyd Wright' - married to 'Catherine Lee Clark Tobin Wright'".



And an article by Thomas Hines, "Frank Lloyd Wright�The Madison Years: Records versus Recollections," in the "Wisconsin Magazine of History" in Winter 1967 (Volume 50, number 2) doesn't give an answer, but does confirm why we don't know what Wright's birth name was: Hines corroborated that Wright had no surviving birth certificate, so that doesn't help (and Wright himself didn't help).



Secrest herself wrote that Wright was born "Frank Lincoln Wright" in her biography, "Frank Lloyd Wright: A Life" (p. 50), but she had no citation, either. Since her biography came out after Gill's, I think Secrest had it as a given (but doesn't write about when he started going by Lloyd).



Thinking about it, you'd think that Wright would have mentioned when he started going as "Frank Lloyd Wright" at some point in his life, if his middle name was originally Lincoln.



So, the answer is that there is no proof of "Lincoln" and, personally, I gave up trying to correct anyone because, as you can see already, there is a lot of writing needed just to state emphatically that we don't know (let alone, "if I had a time machine, I'd go back, slap Gill on the nose & ask him where the heck he came up with that").



Thanks for reading for a non-answer. Have a good day,

DRN
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Post by DRN »

Spring Green raises an interesting point...
Wright's "An Autobiography", which admittedly has its share of "spin", spends the first 40 odd pages describing the history of his mother's side of the family. Relatively little is noted about the Wright side of the family. If Wright, who embraced change and rebellion throughout his life, took such a bold step as to change his name in order to disavow his father and honor his mother and her family following his parents' 1885 divorce, as the Fallingwater bio suggests, one might think he'd mention that bit of self determination....or not.

If Wright didn't have a (copy of his) birth certificate, that might be explained by its being lost or destroyed in one of many childhood moves, or he "lost" it when he altered his birth year. But, one would think something would still be on file with the state of Wisconsin or county of his birth?

peterm
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Post by peterm »

The idea that Brendan Gill would have pulled this out of thin air is difficult to fathom.

Are there other unsubstantiated claims in his writing? If the rest of his historical writing is mostly accurate, that might give credence to his assertion. If not, wouldn’t he have been risking his entire reputation as a writer on a false claim of relatively little significance?

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

The main problem is clearly that too many people accept what has been published as fact, by the fact of publication alone. Citations seem no longer to be needed. Even Ada Louise Huxtable, who ought to have been exceedingly careful about such things, makes the same mistake. While we are at it, Gill also thought that no one would name a child "Frank," it must have been short for "Franklin" to honor Benjamin. Franklin Lincoln Wright. Rolls off the tongue.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Peter, Gill was described by Edgar Kaufmann as "the Louella O. Parsons of architecture criticism." That bought Edgar a scathing obituary from Gill.

The book, written while Olga was still alive, but withheld from publication until she died, seemingly to avoid the inevitable litigation that would have followed if she had still been around to read it, is full of false claims of intimacy with FLW (no one at Taliesin whom I talked to recalls ever encountering Gill) and stories based on supposition. For instance, there is a "Romeo and Juliet" balcony on back of the Isabel Roberts House, which Gill used to suggest that there was a romance between the architect and his bookkeeper. Never mind that the balcony (and brick veneer) was added by Harry Robinson years later. Facts seemed never to get in Gill's way. When I met him, he was full of misinformation about FLW, spouting it as if it were gospel. When he told me he had written a biography, even though at that point I had never heard of him, I was dismayed.

DRN
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Post by DRN »

It is not that can't accept that Wright's middle name may have changed, I doubt that it did, but it might have. What is driving all of this is that something so fundamental to a well known person's identity was posthumously given a starkly new facet by a writer who cites no historical reference to verify it. Consider all of the ink spilled over Wright from 1900 to 1990, and not one word about a name change. Suddenly a writer who uses end notes relative to many passages in his book drops this name change and no citation is given. I'm left wanting to know where the new bit of information came from.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

The only hint of a source I ever heard (from Robert Sweeney) was that it came from research done by Gladys Wright, David's wife. For some reason, she insisted that it not be traced to her. Well, I don't know if she left any evidence of her life, but since she died several years ago, if there is a trail, it ought to be made public eventually. Or, more likely, Sweeney was talking through his hat.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

. . . and Gill died in December pf 1997, so he's of no use to the present discussion.

SDR

DRN
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Post by DRN »

Meryle Secrest is still with us; in her 80's. Do we believe if she took Gill's word without checking it, she (or her publishers, through whom she is contacted) will be open to discussing it?
Last edited by DRN on Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

No.
It has been my experience, when calling persons to account, that they tend to become defensive, obfuscate and change the subject.

jay
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Post by jay »

Fyi, Brendan Gill attacked Joseph Campbell posthumously:

"'He wasn't my enemy when he was an obscure person full of eccentric notions,'' Mr. Gill said in a telephone interview..... ''But,'' Mr. Gill continued, explaining his decision to publish his anti-Campbell essay, ''when he became a conspicuous public figure and got a response of millions of people, then I had to take up arms against him.''

Check out his source:
"When the astronauts landed on the moon, Mr. Gill writes, illustrating what he alleges to be Campbell's private anti-Semitism, ''Joe made the repellent jest'' that ''the moon would be a good place to put the Jews.'' Mr. Gill says the remark was heard by a member of his family who was a student at Sarah Lawrence.

https://www.nytimes.com/1989/11/06/arts ... itism.html

Perhaps Campbell was some form of racist, I certainly don't know. But reading a fair amount of his work, I can't imagine a worse way to harbor bigotry than to be a public scholar of humanity's multi-cultural dimensions.

Personally, not a fan of Brendan Gill.

Rood
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Post by Rood »

Roderick Grant wrote:The only hint of a source I ever heard (from Robert Sweeney) was that it came from research done by Gladys Wright, David's wife. For some reason, she insisted that it not be traced to her. Well, I don't know if she left any evidence of her life, but since she died several years ago, if there is a trail, it ought to be made public eventually. Or, more likely, Sweeney was talking through his hat.
A member of the David and Gladys Wright family told me Gladys spent a great deal of time researching the family tree. Though much of her labour probably predates the advent of computerized genealogical records, it might be endlessly fascinating to study a copy of her work.

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