This new biography—featuring over 150 archival images and full-color photographs printed throughout—introduces Julia Morgan as both a pioneering architect and a captivating individual.
Julia Morgan was a lifelong trailblazer. She was the first woman admitted to study architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the first licensed to practice architecture in California. Over the first half of the 20th century, she left an indelible mark on the American West. Of her remarkable 700 creations, the most iconic is Hearst Castle. Morgan spent thirty years constructing this opulent estate on the California coast for the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst—forging a lifelong friendship and creative partnership with him. Together, they built a spectacular and unequalled residence that once hosted the biggest stars of Hollywood's golden age, and that now welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
This compelling biography draws on interviews, letters, and Morgan's diaries, including never-before-seen reflections on faith, art, and her life experiences. Morgan's friendship with Hearst, her passion for California's landscape, her struggles with familial dementia, and her devotion to architecture reveal her to have been a singularly brilliant and determined artist.
PREVIOUSLY UNPUBLISHED CONTENT: Victoria Kastner has spent years compiling photographs, interviews, letters, drawings, and diaries—including material never published before—to create the first truly comprehensive portrait of this amazing woman.
OVER 150 PHOTOGRAPHS: This book features over 150 photographs, printed throughout the text. These include both fascinating archival images and beautiful, full-color contemporary shots of Morgan's buildings.
INSPIRING STORY: By exploring both Morgan's work and her life, Kastner weaves a captivating tale about courage, vision, and resilience. Julia Morgan forged a path for herself against the odds, and her story will inspire contemporary women and creatives.
ARCHITECTURAL ICON: Julia Morgan created 700 buildings during her career, from hotels to churches to private homes. Born in San Francisco and trained in Paris, she developed a distinctive aesthetic that now defines certain regions of California. But only in the last twenty years has her contribution to architecture been fully recognized and celebrated. In 2014, the American Institute of Architects' posthumously awarded her its Gold Medal; she was the first female recipient.
• History buffs
• Students, enthusiasts, and professional architects
• Aspiring creatives in all fields
• Feminists seeking role models
• Visitors to Hearst Castle and Morgan's other buildings
• Californians and visitors to California
About the Author
When Victoria Kastner paid her first visit to Hearst Castle many years ago, she was told, "An architect named Julia Morgan built this entire estate, but we don't know anything about her." From then on, she was hooked. She spent more than three decades as the castle's official historian, and her previous books include the definitive trilogy of its history. Now an independent researcher and lecturer, she resides in Los Osos, California.
“A closer look at the woman who helped build the American West. . . . Kastner makes an unassailable case for her as the patron architect of California.” —Alta
“Kastner, who worked as the historian at Hearst Castle, has pored over family letters and business correspondence as well as Morgan’s drawings to bring us a book . . . that walks us . . . through the life and career of an extraordinary woman. . . . Kastner’s book is lavishly illustrated with Morgan’s delicate drawings and gorgeous finished creations.” —The Washington Post
“Kastner pulls back the curtain on Julia Morgan, . . . highlighting the grit and grace that Morgan possessed.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Handsome and comprehensive . . . Victoria Kastner’s words, along with Alexander Vertikoff’s photography, provide a sweeping overview of Julia Morgan’s vast, versatile body of work. You’ll want to get a hard copy of this book; e-readers don’t do justice to the photos or the layout. It’s a volume to hold in your hands and savor.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“This revealing look at Morgan’s personal life emerged from Kastner’s decades of research. . . . While Morgan remains most famous for San Simeon, the book sheds new light on the more than 700 other projects, both public and residential, that comprise Morgan’s extraordinary portfolio.” —Luxe Interiors + Design
“Despite her many accomplishments, Morgan has largely been forgotten. Kastner’s book resurrects the architect’s professional impact on the field of architecture and on the California landscape. . . . The author also weaves in diary entries, letters, and interviews . . . giving us a glimpse of Morgan’s elusive, unique personality.” —Hyperallergic
“A deeply researched book . . . . The 150 photographs . . . help introduce readers to the scope of her talent, which extended from grand classical colonnades to somewhat rustic, intimate Arts and Crafts domestic structures. . . . Kastner also presents details about Morgan that make her come alive as a person.” —1st Dibs
“Kastner . . . peppers her detailed narrative with quotes, anecdotes, excerpts from personal correspondence, period newspaper clippings, family photos, sketches, and architectural renderings. Her subject emerges as soft-spoken and driven, an independent woman completely dedicated to her profession. Roughly the last half of the book addresses the construction of Hearst Castle, a project that lasted twenty-eight years. Many of Morgan’s other structures still stand, as documented in numerous full-color, full-page photographs. This is an intimate portrait of a true trailblazer, and a fitting tribute to the first female recipient of the American Institute of Architects’ prestigious Gold Medal." —Booklist
“Morgan was one of the most prolific, modest, and elusive characters in the history of the profession, as . . . Victoria Kastner demonstrates and decodes.” —Town and Country