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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Was Wilbur and Orville Wrights Sister Gay?

The sex lives of the Wrights are all mixed up. They all lived at home. They all had an overbearing father who proclaimed the world evil.  Orville had a secret girlfriend and Wilbur professed not to ever have time for any kind of relationship. Then there is Katherine Wright, the enigma wrapped up in a riddle. You don't start out researching with an agenda. You come to it like an explorer looking for gold. The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright in the Library of Congress were my gold mine. They are bound in two volumes that are probably five inches across each. About 2500 pages in all. And buried in those 2500 pages of letters, diaries, official documents, drawings, are the letters of one Katherine Wright who dutifully cared for Wilbur and Orville and her father most of her life. The brothers never left home and neither did Katherine until much later.

Pictures of Katherine Wright are not kind. She is a plain almost boyish woman with wire rimmed glasses who stares directly at the camera in many of her photos. Her father Bishop Wright demanded from his daughter she keep the home after his wife died. Add to that her two brothers who also needed looking after as they scurried off to Kitty Hawk. So where is all this going. Katherine's primary relationships from high school through college and into adulthood were with woman and one in particular. Her letters to Margaret are that of two people in a relationship. Margaret was her best friend and they spent lots of time together, going to the Columbian Exposition in Chicago on an extended trip when Margarets husband was away.

As you read the correspondence a glimmer of suspicion begins. We live in an age  when being gay has not a sixteenth of the connotation it did at the turn of the century. Katherine's letters gush about Margaret as they pursued their friendship and the pictures are one after another of the two women enjoying each others company. There is no smoking gun here but it would make sense. Katherine was a tough no nonsense woman who enjoyed putting bad boys in their place in her classroom. Katherine would marry at 55  a widower after a long correspondence. Orville would never speak to her again for leaving the family home. This of course is all conjecture, but the question is there along with all the other questions regarding the secretive Wright family....was Katherine Wright gay?

Wright Brothers Wrong Story

Books by William Hazelgrove