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Mamah Borthwick was an American translator primarily noted for her relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright, which ended when she was murdered in a house fire.

Full Name Martha "Mamah" Borthwick
Who librarian / translator
Birth Date June 19, 1969
Death Date August 15, 1914
Country United States
Born Boone, Iowa, USA
Died Chicago, Illinois, USA
Cause of Death murdered - fire / axing
Education University of Michigan
Father Marcus Smith Borthwick
Mother Almira A. Bowcock Borthwick
Spouse Edwin Cheney

Elizabeth Bouton Borthwick

Jessie Borthwick


John Cheney

Martha Cheney


Borthwick met Frank Lloyd Wright after he designed and built a house for her and her husband Edwin, around 1904. Their relationship began around this time, and in 1909, both Wright and Borthwick decided to leave both their spouses and run away to Europe together. They did just that, and returned in 1910, unafraid to be seen together and recognized to be obviously close. Society was scandalized, and both of their respective former spouses fought signing legal divorce papers for years. Some people even clamored for Wright's arrest for immorality, but the police could not prove that he and Borthwick were doing anything wrong.

While in Europe in 1909, Borthwick met up with Swedish feminist and writer Ellen Key, whom she admired. Her admiration for Key only deepened after the meeting, and Borthwick translated Key's works into English, bringing them for the first time to the American public.


Boone, Iowa, USA - Born here, 1969.

Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA - Attended university here, 1888 - 1892.

Port Huron, Michigan, USA - Lived here, 1892 - 1899.

Chicago, Illinois, USA - Lived here, 1899 - 1909. Was frequently here, 1910 - 1914. 

Florence, Italy - Traveled here, 1909.

Spring Green, Wisconsin, USA - Lived here, 1910 - 1914. Died here, 1914.


People Who Were Murdered

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