The University of Wisconsin Press

Biography / Architecture / True Crime


Death in a Prairie House
Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders
An Abridged Audiobook
William R. Drennan
As read by Jim Fleming on Wisconsin Public Radio’s
Chapter a Day® program


“William Drennan’s careful reconstruction of the events

at Taliesin before, during, and after August 15, 1914, sheds new light on the tragic happenings of that day.”

—Nancy Horan, author of Loving Frank


The most pivotal and yet least understood event of Frank Lloyd Wright’s celebrated life involves the brutal murders in 1914 of seven adults and children dear to the architect and the destruction by fire of Taliesin, his landmark residence, near Spring Green, Wisconsin. Supplying both a gripping mystery story and a portrait of the artist in his prime, William Drennan wades through the myths surrounding Wright and the massacre, casting fresh light on the formulation of Wright’s architectural ideology and the cataclysmic effects that the Taliesin murders exerted on the fabled architect and on his subsequent designs.


“Drennan retells the story, sparing no details and judiciously

placing them in the context of Wright’s legendary career and tangled personal life. . . . Memorable crime books are about revealing character, and this one’s best when plumbing the psyches of the murderer . . . and the self-absorbed genius who buried his grief in 45 more years of work.”—Harold Henderson, Chicago Reader

• Audiobook on 4 CDs


Distributed for Wisconsin Public Radio


William R. Drennan is professor emeritus of English at the University of Wisconsin–Baraboo/Sauk County and adjunct instructor in the Department of English at Appalachian State University, in Boone, North Carolina. Jim Fleming, host of the Peabody Award–winning program To the Best of Our Knowledge, has been reading books aloud for thirty years on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Chapter a Day®.

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This is a draft version of what the cover of this CD MIGHT look like. It is similar to the book, and shows a collage of elements, the murder ax, the newspaper articles, the first Taliesin.

March 2009

5 5/8 x 4 7/8
Audio book on 4 CDs

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Death in a Prairie House is a compelling argument in support of the theory that the Taliesin tragedy profoundly affected not only the future lives of those directly involved (not the least of whom was considered to be the most influential and gifted architect of the time), but likely, the whole course and development of modern architecture.”—Craig Jacobsen, Taliesin Preservation, Inc. 

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Updated July 14, 2011

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