Synopses & Reviews
Published in time for the 100th anniversary of the first flight, here is the first complete biography of the Wright Brothers' sister. Beloved sibling, confidant, and caregiver, Katharine managed many of her brothers' affairs. Based on a thorough study of her personal papers and the Wright archives, The Wright Sister
tells a touching personal story, and casts a uniquely intimate light on the lives of two of the twentieth century's most famous men.
"Maurer ably handles all aspects of Katharine's life, from explanations of flight... to the love letters she exchanged with an old college friend.... Maurer shows all the ways Katharine refused to live in the shadow of her brothers, no matter how high-flying they were." Abby McGanney Nolan, New York Times Book Review
"A perpetually rewarding and illuminating read, illustrated with black-and-white period photographs." Publishers Weekly
"The Wright Sister is a handsome piece of bookmaking. Maurer has found photographs not used elsewhere that help to focus on Katharine and give this treatment a unique touch." Harriett Fargnoli, School Library Journal
"[A]n important biography of a woman who also had the Wright stuff." Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly Maurer seizes the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the flight at Kitty Hawk to examine the role of Wilbur and Orville Wright's older sister, Katharine, and in the process liberates her from the obscurity history often assigns those whose sacrifices and support enable others to triumph. Where Jane Yolen's My Brothers' Flying Machine (reviewed above), for the picture-book crowd, casts Katharine as a narrator of her brothers' story, Maurer's dynamic biography explores the woman as a subject in her own right. Katharine began keeping house for her father and brothers at the age of 14 (when her mother died), and Maurer depicts her as neither drudge nor martyr; she emerges as a vivacious, supremely competent woman. The only member of her family to graduate from college, she was nevertheless expected to continue to care for her father and unmarried brothers-acting as secretary as well as managing the household-while she also taught school. Excerpts from her correspondence demonstrate how Katharine sails through these challenges, enthusiastically maintaining a social and intellectual life as she encouraged and aided her brothers, and, later, charmed European dignitaries and royals. The author also discusses the Wright Brothers' accomplishments and, engrossingly, uses family letters to paint a picture of the household dynamics. The relationships merit scrutiny: Orville disowned Katherine when, in middle age, she finally married. A perpetually rewarding and illuminating read, illustrated with black-and-white period photographs. Booklist Starred Review Written for an older audience than the one for Jane Yolen's My Brothers' Flying Machine, this handsome biography also spotlights the inventors' sister. Katharine Wright ran the household for her older brothers and their father during the years when Orville and Wilbur were developing and promoting their airplane. A graduate of Oberlin College, she gave up her career as a teacher to help them turn their airplane from a curiosity into a viable business. Clearly reflecting the societal rules and expectations of the time, the book portrays Katharine as an intelligent woman, valued for her role within the family, yet restricted by it. Even her brothers emerge as individuals here rather than the interchangeable "Wright brothers" found in many presentations. Quotations from diaries and letters bring the close-knit Wright family to life, making it all the more poignant when readers discover that Orville refused to see Katharine after her marriage at the age of 52, relenting only when she was on her deathbed. The layout is spacious, and the many well-chosen, black-and-white photos help visualize the Wrights and their times. An author's note and an extensive list of sources are appended. School Library Journal Working from Katharine Wright's papers, correspondence, and family archives, Maurer chronicles the events surrounding Wilbur and Orville, while all along filling in the details of their younger sister's life and the relationship among the three. This strong young woman took over running the household at age 15 when her mother died. Encouraged to pursue a higher education by her father, a bishop, she graduated from Oberlin College and later became its second female trustee. Her teaching career did seem to take a backseat to managing her brothers' affairs and appointments after their historic flight. To some observers, and as Maurer establishes, she was "the third member of the team." But he dispels, as Katharine did, the notion that she actually sewed the muslin to cover the wings and measured the wood to build the Flyer. The Wright Sister is a handsome piece of bookmaking. Maurer has found photographs not used elsewhere that help to focus on Katharine and give this treatment a unique touch.
The Wright Sister: Katharine Wright and Her Famous Brothers is a biography of the Wright brothers' sister.
Drawing from letters, personal papers, and archived materials, Maurer chronicles the life of the younger sister of Orville and Wilbur Wright, who gave up her teaching career to help them promote their new flying machine. Includes an Author's Note and black-and-white photos.
About the Author
Richard Maurer is the author of The Wild Colorado
and Airborne: The Search for the Secret of Flight
, winner of the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award.. He lives in central Massachusetts.