The University of Wisconsin Press

Biography / Wisconsin / True Crime / Architecture

Death in a Prairie House
Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders
William R. Drennan

See also the abridged audiobook Death in a Prairie House

“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.

“William R. 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

“After [Frank Lloyd Wright’s and Mamah Borthwick Cheney’s] sojourn in Europe they settled in Wisconsin, where Frank designed his legendary prairie house Taliesin as their new home. It was an exercise in optimism that nearly destroyed them both. (William R. Drennan’s recent Death in a Prairie House offers a . . . more detailed factual account of what transpired.)”
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

William R. Drennan (1944–2015) was 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.

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Death in a Prairie House

Fall 2008
LC: 2006031765 NA
232 pp.    6 x 9
10 b/w photos

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Paper $18.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-22214-7
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Audiobook, Abridged CD $27.95 t
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