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WRIGHT, Orville (1871-1948) An archive of papers concerning the writing and eventual publication of a lengthy biography of Orville and Wilbur Wright. —WRIGHT, Orville. 6 typed letters signed (“Orville Wright” and “Orville”) Dayton, 26 May 1915 (2), 10 July 1915, 14 March 1930, 23 May 1930 (2). 7 pages, 4to, on Wright Company and Wright’s personal stationery; —WRIGHT, Orville. Autograph letter signed (“Orville Wright”) Hawthorn Hill, Oakwood, 18 December 1915. 1 page, 8vo, on his personal letterhead; —FINDLEY, Earl (1878-1956) 3 typed letters signed (“Earl R. Findley”) to Orville Wright and John McMahon, New York, 5 June 1915, 13 July 1916, 25 May 1928. 3 pages, 4to. McMAHON (1875 - ?) 3 typed letters signed (“John R. McMahon”) to Earl Findley and George Horace Lorimer (Saturday Evening Post), Little Falls, New Jersey, 9 October 1915 (2), 18 May 1928. 3 pages, 4to. [With:]— [FINDLEY, Earl, John R. McMAHON] unpublished typescript, [1915]. 237 pages, 4to. Together with other
WRIGHT, Orville (1871-1948) An archive of papers concerning the writing and eventual publication of a lengthy biography of Orville and Wilbur Wright. —WRIGHT, Orville. 6 typed letters signed (“Orville Wright” and “Orville”) Dayton, 26 May 1915 (2), 10 July 1915, 14 March 1930, 23 May 1930 (2). 7 pages, 4to, on Wright Company and Wright’s personal stationery; —WRIGHT, Orville. Autograph letter signed (“Orville Wright”) Hawthorn Hill, Oakwood, 18 December 1915. 1 page, 8vo, on his personal letterhead; —FINDLEY, Earl (1878-1956) 3 typed letters signed (“Earl R. Findley”) to Orville Wright and John McMahon, New York, 5 June 1915, 13 July 1916, 25 May 1928. 3 pages, 4to. McMAHON (1875 - ?) 3 typed letters signed (“John R. McMahon”) to Earl Findley and George Horace Lorimer (Saturday Evening Post), Little Falls, New Jersey, 9 October 1915 (2), 18 May 1928. 3 pages, 4to. [With:]— [FINDLEY, Earl, John R. McMAHON] unpublished typescript, [1915]. 237 pages, 4to. Together with other letters and copies of related correspondence (lacking first 12 pages).

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WRIGHT, Orville (1871-1948) An archive of papers concerning the writing and eventual publication of a lengthy biography of Orville and Wilbur Wright. —WRIGHT, Orville. 6 typed letters signed (“Orville Wright” and “Orville”) Dayton, 26 May 1915 (2), 10 July 1915, 14 March 1930, 23 May 1930 (2). 7 pages, 4to, on Wright Company and Wright’s personal stationery; —WRIGHT, Orville. Autograph letter signed (“Orville Wright”) Hawthorn Hill, Oakwood, 18 December 1915. 1 page, 8vo, on his personal letterhead; —FINDLEY, Earl (1878-1956) 3 typed letters signed (“Earl R. Findley”) to Orville Wright and John McMahon, New York, 5 June 1915, 13 July 1916, 25 May 1928. 3 pages, 4to. McMAHON (1875 - ?) 3 typed letters signed (“John R. McMahon”) to Earl Findley and George Horace Lorimer (Saturday Evening Post), Little Falls, New Jersey, 9 October 1915 (2), 18 May 1928. 3 pages, 4to. [With:]— [FINDLEY, Earl, John R. McMAHON] unpublished typescript, [1915]. 237 pages, 4to. Together with other letters and copies of related correspondence (lacking first 12 pages).

An original typescript of the only Wright Brothers biography authorized by the Wright family, together with Orville Wright’s correspondence with authors Earl N. Findley and John R. McMahon—a revealing set of letters documenting the production of the biography (ultimately rejected by Wright), and its eventual unauthorized publication by McMahon in 1930.

In early 1915, Orville and Katharine Wright retained Earl Findley to compose a lengthy article detailing the history of the Wright Brothers. Writing on 26 May 1915, Orville wrote “...I shall be glad to have you undertake to write a comprehensive story of the invention of the flying machine by Wilbur and Orville Wright for serial publication in a reputable magazine. This story has not hitherto been adequately presented.” To assist in the effort, Findley retained John R. McMahon who collaborated on the present draft (while also suggesting that the work be published in book form). Upon reading the treatment, Wright, unsatisfied with the quality of the work, decided not to allow publication. The project lay dormant for a number of years until 1930, when, unbeknownst to Findley or the Wrights, McMahon published The Wright Brothers: Fathers of Flight, setting off a bitter dispute between the authors, all documented in the present archive.

Orville Wright’s letters read, in small part: (26 May 1915) “I will be very glad to help you in any way I can so that you can make some money out of your articles. I have never thought of trying to make anything financially for myself, either out of the publication of articles or the publication of a book. I only wish that some day a full and accurate account of the work be done by Wilbur and myself be prepared.” Wright enclosed the aforementioned signed letter of the same date which reads, in part: “...I shall be glad to have you undertake to write a comprehensive story of the invention of the flying machine by Wilbur and Orville Wright for serial publication in a reputable magazine. This story has not hitherto been adequately presented. I will help you as far as I can in gathering the material for your undertaking, and in looking over the installments of your narrative. It is understood that you will submit all matter to me before publication in order to insure accuracy...I may assure you that while you are engaged on this work, and providing it is satisfactory to me, you will have a clear field in the use of data and information so far as I am concerned. I mean by this that your work will not be duplicated or anticipated by another writer enjoying similar privileges.” (14 March 1930) “I don’t blame you for going after McMahon. You certainly are entitled to over one-half of any royalties paid on ‘The Wright Brothers: Fathers of Flight’. We did not know McMahon, and would not have considered trusting him with the papers, etc., that we turned over for your use. that McMahon knew that he had no right to use any of that material, except with my consent, is pretty clearly shown, I think , from several letters I have had from him in the past five or six years. Hale, of Small, Maynard and Company, Boston, told me that McMahon had told him that my consent was necessary...” (23 May 1930) In reference to a scathing review Findley planned to publish concerning McMahon’s book: “My only objection is that it may involve you in further trouble with McMahon. If the review is to be published, I would suggest toning down some of the expressions in it, such as ‘stolen material’, ‘larceny’, ‘purloined article’. the sue of these expressions might involve you in a law suit. McMahon’s fault was a breach of contract and of trust rather than that of stealing. He came into possession of the material honestly. His dishonesty was in his disposal of it.” Much more fine content.


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