Review by Louella Moreland
Most people of the modern world are
familiar with the names Orville and Wilbur Wright, the famous Wright
brothers. As we approach the 100th anniversary of their first
successful flight at Kitty Hawk, on Dec. 17, 1903, it is refreshing
to read about their family and lives through the eyes of their
youngest sister, Katherine, in this fantastic book by Richard
Not only was Katherine Wright an
advocate of her brothers' invention, a college graduate and teacher,
but she had kept the family home at 7 Hawthorn St. in Dayton, Ohio,
since her mother's death when Katherine was 12. Her brothers' short
flight on the beach at Kitty Hawk changed the lives of the entire
Wright family, including Katherine and her father, Bishop Milton
Wright. This did not happen overnight, though, as the press
determined the event "not newsworthy" for some time.
Katherine, being the youngest of the
family and a girl, was often expected to set aside her hopes and
aspirations when a request came from a male member of the family.
She gave up her teaching position to become the personal secretary
for her brothers' business and lived at home to take care of her
elderly father. She eventually married very late in life, which
caused an estrangement from her famous brother, Orville, who
expected her to remain his companion in later years.
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Maurer's biography is full of familiar
photographs of the famous "flying machines" built by the Wright
brothers. It also gives the reader a feeling of being present at the
family home as the news arrives of the first successful flight. That
flight was only the beginning of a new era in the age of man, just
as that story is only a part of the life lived by this family. The
reader is treated to a rich, descriptive narrative from Katherine's
early childhood to her death in 1929.
Sprinkled throughout the text are
photos of family, the Wright home in Dayton, trips to Europe made to
promote their airplanes and, of course, lots of early airplanes.
Although the fame of the family came from that invention, Maurer
never loses sight of the fact that Katherine was an exceptional lady
for her time. Parts of her life were difficult, parts were quite
fun, but the reader is never allowed to forget that this was a
living person whose life was changed by an extraordinary event.
An author's note explaining what
prompted the writing of Katherine's story, a source listing and
index can be found at the end of the book. Whether a person chooses
this book because of a fondness for flying, to research a
fascinating time in our history or just to read for fun, "The Wright
Sister" is definitely worth reading.
To read this
book or others about the famous brothers who took to the skies,
visit us at the Lincoln Public Library, 725 Pekin St.
[Louella Moreland, youth services librarian,
Public Library District]