State Historical Society of Iowa--Iowa City, Feb. 20, 2013
David Patterson gave his first public talk on the music of William Wright at the State Historical Society of Iowa in Iowa City on Feb. 20th. This site is of tremendous relevance to those interested in William Wright, as it houses the Elizabeth Wright Heller Collection, perhaps the only genuine "collection" on William, and certainly the motherlode source for his musical scores. Descendants from both sides of Frank Lloyd Wright's family were in attendance. Pictured above, from left to right: Richard Lloyd-Jones, Richard Heller, Mary Rogers (great-great-granddaughter of William C. Wright and Permelia Holcomb), and David Patterson.
This talk was preceded on February 19th by a twenty-minute "The Talk of Iowa" segment on Iowa Public Radio. The talk itself was taped for broadcast on the local government television channel (not available online), and a follow-up segment on Iowa Public Radio was broadcast on multiple occasions; this radio segment may be heard here.
The Elizabeth Wright Heller Collection includes: three volumes of William Wright's compositions (back row); one volume of the music that her mother Permelia Holcomb used to play (lower left); a family photograph album (lower center); and Elizabeth Wright Heller's autobiography (lower right). Brendan Gill's 1987 book, "Many Masks," was one of the first to make use of any of the information found in these sources.
The Elizabeth Wright Heller Collection was donated to the State Historical Society of Iowa by Hope Rogers, Elizabeth's granddaughter (and therefore, great-granddaughter of William Wright). Years earlier, Hope also helped Elizabeth finalize her autobiography in typed format, and in 1976, published her own book about William, entitled "Grandpa Wright." Hope's daughter Mary (pictured at the top of this page) has taken over the role of family historian. Without the efforts of this one branch of the family, surely much of this material would be lost forever!