A devastating wildfire, which destroyed fifty percent of the houses in our neighborhood in 1993, sparked my late-life writing career (I was in my mid-sixties). Realizing that all the materials I had been saving to recount the story of bringing up a child with Down syndrome would have been destroyed if our house had burned, I took a college writing class and started my first book. That book went through several stages before being published on October 26, 2012. In the interim I published two books on architecture: Caltech’s Architectural Heritage: From Spanish Tile to Modern Stone published in 2000 by Balcony Press of Los Angeles; and Bertram Goodhue: His Life and Residential Architecture published in 2007 by W. W. Norton of New York and London. I have also co-authored, with Charlotte Erwin, The President’s House at The California Institute of Technology published by the Institute in 2001, and edited a book by Katherine Offenhauser, Bob Ray Offenhauser: An Architect’s Journey, published by Balcony Press in 2011.
Based on material in my books, I have written articles on architecture and developmental disabilities. Commentaries for national newspapers include: “Mainstreaming Can Hold Everybody Back,” published in the Los Angeles Times (Feb. 26, 1996), the Chicago Tribune (March 8, 1996), and the San Francisco Chronicle (March 11, 1996). Albert Shanker, President of the American Federation of Teachers, used this article as his guest column in the New York Times (April 21, 1996) and The New Republic (May 13, 1966). “Spared a Choice and Glad of It” was published in the Los Angeles Times (Nov. 6, 1996) and the Chicago Tribune (November 22, 1996). “Labels Are Less Important Than Attitudes” was published in the Los Angeles Times (April 23, 1997) and the Chicago Tribune (May 14, 1997). My essay "The Architecture of the National Academy of Sciences" is one of sixteen articles in Convergence: The Art Collection of the National Academy of Sciences (Washington, D.C. NAS, 2012).
I am a reader at the Huntington Library, San Marino, California, and hold membership in Authors Guild, Authors Den, the Society of Architectural Historians, and the Zamorano Club (Los Angeles). In my spare time I run a volunteer Architectural Tour Service at the California Institute of Technology. In 1996 I was made an Honorary Alumna of the Institute for this contribution. I have given numerous illustrated lectures on the architecture of the Institute and the work of Bertram Goodhue.
I was born in Yorkshire, England. My education consists of an M.A. in English and History from the University of St.Andrews, Scotland (1955); a diploma in business and secretarial practices from St.Godric’s College in London (1956); and a diploma in interior design from the Harrington Institute of Interior Design in Chicago (1974). My husband is Professor of Geology Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology.
I started my professional life as Secretary to the Dean of Summer Sessions, Pennsylvania State University (1956-1959). After giving birth to four children (1959-1965), I returned to the work force as Managing Editor of the Journal of Geology at the University of Chicago Press (1967-1972). From 1974 to 1983 I was on the faculty of the Harrington Institute of Interior Design in Chicago. I taught classes in Interior Design and co-taught History of Architecture. After three years working for an interior design firm in Chicago, I founded my own Interior Design business, named Intekton, in 1977. I am a professional member of the International Interior Design Association.
As I phase out my interior design work, I find that writing provides a stimulating occupation in my retirement years. After the initial research is complete and I have an outline formulated, an inner voice takes over and guides me through the writing process.