Public Expectation vs. Free Love : Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick's Controversial Affair
Gulish, Karyssa N.
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American society had many expectations when it came to marriage, the family, and gender roles in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By exploring the status of women in marriage during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, one can see particularly how the cult of domesticity, views of the “New Woman”, and the study of eugenics played pivotal roles in public expectations towards marriage. This paper focuses on Frank Lloyd Wright’s relationship with his mistress Mamah Borthwick to determine how cultural attitudes regarding domesticity, the New Woman, and eugenics influenced public opposition to their relationship from the very beginning. This paper will be using medical journals on eugenics from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, secondary sources about the cult of domesticity, the “New Woman”, and about the relationship The primary sources I will analyze are Frank Lloyd Wright’s An Autobiography, newspapers, and letters from Mamah Borthwick to Ellen Key.This project is a microhistory of one non-traditional relationship and how it became a lightning rod for public debates over marriage in a period of rapid cultural change.
Wright, Frank Lloyd, 1867-1959
Cheney, Martha Borthwick, 1869-1914
Women--United States--Social conditions