Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland, Wisconsin on 8th June, 1867. His father, William Cary Wright, was a preacher and musician. His mother, Anna Lloyd Jones, a teacher, was the daughter of Welsh immigrants. Wright studied civil engineering at Wisconsin University and while there developed an interest in architecture.
Wright moved to Chicago in 1889 and found work with the architectural firm of Adler and Sullivan. He was greatly influenced by one of the partners, Louis Sullivan, who believed in a architecture that was "based on American themes and not on tradition or European styles".
Wright's mother joined him in Chicago and she became a volunteer worker at the Hull House Settlement. His uncle, Jenkin Lloyd Jones, a Unitarian minister, was also very involved in this community project and encouraged Wright to give free lectures at Hull House. Although Wright supported the social reform activities of Jane Addams and her followers, he was critical of the emphasis the movement placed on preserving past art and handicrafts.
In 1894 Wright established his own architectural firm in Oak Farm and began to build low-built prairie-style bungalows designed to fit into the landscape. Made of native stones and woods, Wright houses were examples of what he called organic architecture: buildings that attempted to "reflect the individual needs of the client, the nature of the site, and the native materials available."
Wright later produced more daring and controversial designs that exploited modern technology. This included the Unity Temple, America's first important architectural work in poured concrete and the Larkin Building in Buffalo, with its innovative use of metal furniture.
In 1913 Wright began work on designing the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Acclaimed for its earthquake resistant supporting structure, the hotel was one of the few buildings that survived the Kanto earthquake that destroyed much of Tokyo in 1923.
After the Wall Street Crash Wright received few commissions and so he concentrated on writing. This included An Autobiography (1932) and the highly influential, The Disappearing City (1932). These books renewed interest in Wright's work and this led to him producing a series of important buildings including the Johnson Wax Administration Building (1936), the Jacobs House (1937), Fallingwater (1936), Wingspread (1937), the Winckler-Goetsch House (1939) and the Florida Southern College (1940).
In his eighties Wright went into semi-retirement and wrote two more important books on architecture: The Natural House (1954) and The Living City (1959). His final work, the Guggenheim Museum, was finished shortly before his death in Phoenix, Arizona, on 9th April, 1959.