DAYTON, Ohio — Katharine Wright, the youngest of the Wright siblings, emerges from her brothers’ long shadows as the subject of “Maiden Flight,” a new book by Harry Haskell of Guilford, Conn.
Maiden Flight, released by the Chicago Review Press imprint Academy Chicago, is the fictionalized telling of Katharine Wright and Henry J. Haskell’s love affair.
Written by Haskell’s grandson and namesake, the novel is based on personal letters, newspaper reports and other documents of the period — in particular, Katharine’s lively and extraordinarily revealing love letters to Harry.
The story of Katharine’s marriage is as fascinating as it is tragic. Wilbur, Orville and Katharine lived together in Dayton as unmarried adults with their widowed father, the Bishop Milton Wright. Katharine’s vibrant, outgoing personality made her an indispensable asset to her renowned, yet socially shy, brothers.
After Wilbur died in 1912, the others lived on together in Hawthorn Hill, their Oakwood mansion. And after Milton’s death in 1917, Orville and Katharine stayed together.
But in 1926, at age 52, Katharine moved out of Hawthorn Hill to marry Kansas City Star editor Henry J. “Harry” Haskell. She had known Haskell since her days at Oberlin College. She agonized over her decision for months, torn between love and loyalty. Her departure left Orville bitter and alone. He shunned his sister, refusing to see her for three years until she was literally on her deathbed.