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Book Nook: The Wright Sister, by Patty Dann

Vick Mickunas' 2020 interview with Patty Dann

The inventor Orville Wright was living in Dayton with his sister Katharine. Their father, Bishop Wright, had died some years before. Their brother Wilbur was dead, too. Orville and Katharine had become somewhat inseparable. People who didn't really know them might have assumed they were a married couple. Orville seemed to think that this state of affairs would continue on uninterrupted.

What the bachelor Orville did not expect finally happened. His spinster sister fell in love with Harry Haskell, a newspaperman from Kansas City. She had known Harry for years, since their college days at Oberlin. Harry's first wife was another Oberlin classmate and the Haskells had been family friends of the Wrights. After Harry's wife died Katharine consoled him. Then they fell in love. Orville apparently hadn't noticed.

When Katharine informed Orville that she was planning to marry Haskell she hoped he would give them his blessing. He did not. Orville was furious. He gave his sister the silent treatment after that. In her novel "The Wright Sister" Patty Dann has tried to imagine what Katharine's life was like after the painful rupture with her brother. The book is written in the form of imagined letters that she sent to Orville and in entries from a journal that she pictured Katharine keeping after she moved to Kansas City to marry Harry.

The Book Nook on WYSO is presented by the Greene County Public Library with additional support from Washington-Centerville Public Library, Clark County Public Library, Dayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.

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Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them. Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.