Nancy Horan, a former journalist and longtime resident of Oak Park, Illinois, now lives and writes on an island in Puget Sound. She is the author of Loving Frank, a novel about Mamah Borthwick and her relationship with the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Horan was awarded the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Fiction by the Society of American Historians in 2009.
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A Conversation with Nancy Horan about Loving Frank
How did you become interested in Mamah Borthwick Cheney? Why
do you think that it has taken so long for her to begin to emerge from out of
the shadow of Frank Lloyd Wright and be seen as an interesting figure in her
Anyone who lives in Oak Park, Illinois, as I did for twenty-four years, knows something about Frank Lloyd Wright. His home and studio complex attracts busloads of visitors from around the world, and his prairie houses dot the town. One of those houses belonged to Mamah Borthwick Cheney, the client who became his lover. The house Wright built for her and her husband is on East Avenue, the very street I lived on. When I toured Wright's home and studio several times, I noticed the guides didn't say much about Mamah; understandably, their focus is on his work and family life. What little I learned about her piqued my interest, though. She was a highly educated woman, a wife and mother of young children at the time of her affair, a feminist. Who was she, and why did she risk so much? A couple of biographies about Wright whetted my appetite. The more I learned about her, the more I felt compelled to tell her remarkable story.
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