Sylvia Hart Wright's eventful life has led her to write on a variety of subjects. Her nonfiction books include a monograph on urban education, two guides to contemporary American architecture, and a study of the surprisingly common phenomenon of sensing contact with the dead. In 2004, a popular online magazine published her novel, Breaking Free, as an e-book. Based on personal experience bolstered by research, it recreates the colorful turmoil of activist Berkeley in the early to mid-sixties and the noir New York of the Black Panthers as that decade rampaged to its close.
A third generation New Yorker who has lived in Oregon since 1991, Wright holds degrees from Cornell, Columbia and New York University. For five years during the Sixties she lived in Berkeley where she was active in the nonviolent anti-war movement. In 1963, she shuttled east briefly to participate in the fabled event where Martin Luther King made his "I have a dream" speech.
During the 1966-67 academic year Wright lived in Panama with her then husband, a zoologist. When that marriage foundered, she moved back to New York with their son and soon landed a job as librarian with a pre-college program for disadvantaged young people; these included a cadre of Black Panthers. Here she set up and headed a collection which attracted national attention for meeting the needs of the program's often alienated students. Meanwhile she started work on a master's in sociology. Articles of hers based on this library experience appeared in major educational journals and her master's thesis, Black Youth, Black Studies and Urban Education, was published as a monograph.
After this pre-college program shut down, Wright moved on to the City College of New York (CCNY). From 1976-1991, she headed the library of CCNY's School of Architecture and Environmental Studies. While there she authored Highlights of Recent American Architecture (1982) and Sourcebook of Contemporary North American Architecture (1989) and rose to the rank of full professor. She won several academic awards and grants and was listed in Who's Who of American Women and Who's Who in the East.
In 1973 she had married Paul Fletcher, a linguist. After he died in 1983, Wright and her son jointly had an experience that suggested that Paul was trying to contact them from beyond the grave; two of his male friends reported similar events. Startling to people steeped in the scientific method and agnosticism! Scholar that she was, Wright started researching the writings of doctors and social scientists on such phenomena and in time interviewed almost a hundred healthy, everyday people who had sensed contact with the dead. Her book, When Spirits Come Calling: The Open-Minded Skeptic's Guide to After-Death Contacts (2002), grew out of this work.
Faithful to her nonviolent activist roots, in recent years Wright has traveled to Nicaragua and Kenya to study Third World conditions and to visit with families living at the subsistence level. In 1999, she demonstrated in Seattle against the World Trade Organization. Two years later she served as an international observer in Mexico when the unarmed leadership of the Zapatistas caravaned from Chiapas to Mexico City to campaign for indigenous rights.
Always driven to function at the cutting edge, Sylvia Hart Wright sees no contradiction between the subjects of her two most recent books. In a time of overwhelming materialism, she sees an aching need both for spirituality--recognition that the spiritual side of existence is real and can be documented--and for activism to create a fairer and more peaceful world.