Side-by-side portraits of Frank Lloyd Wright and his lover Mamah Borthwick Cheney.

365 Days of Art: April 3 – Frank Lloyd Wright Tells a Lie

Side-by-side portraits of Frank Lloyd Wright and his lover Mamah Borthwick Cheney.
Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney.

April 3, 1911

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright writes a letter to a friend and requests money to purchase “a small house” for his mother.

This was a lie.

What he really wanted was a fairly anonymous way to return to the US from Europe with his mistress. Two years earlier, Wright and Mamah (pronounced “May-mah”) Borthwick Cheney had left their respective families for each other. The scandal was heightened because she was not only the wife of one of his clients, but also a neighbor to his family in Oak Park, Illinois. After two years abroad, the couple wanted to return to the United States, but without facing the drama of returning to Oak Park. Wright thought of moving to Wisconsin, where his family owned land. Hence the request for money for his mother.

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