Julia Morgan: An Intimate Biography of the Trailblazing Architect

“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.”

– Ted Loos, 1st Dibs

“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.”


“Kastner’s book is about the person, not just her architecture. . . .’If ever we’re in need of an inspiring story, . . . we need it in these times,’ Kastner says. And she’s given it to us.”

– Mike Welton, Architects and Artisans

“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. Young Adult Special Interest: Architecture-minded teens will appreciate this inspirational STEAM-themed biography.”

– Kathleen McBroom, Booklist

“Lovers of art, history, and women’s studies alike will thoroughly enjoy this comprehensive account of a figure who not only overcame incredible obstacles to pursue her craft, but did so with considerable grace and inner strength.”

– Hannah Fish, Christian Science Monitor

“Beautiful new design book . . . a must-read right now.”

– Diane Cowen, Houston Chronicle

“Architect Julia Morgan defied many odds. . . . a lifelong trailblazer.”

– Hunker

“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.”

– Lauren Moya Ford, Hyperallergic

“A compelling new biography. . . . Morgan died in 1957 at the age of 85, but her legacy still reigns today.”

– Nadja Sayeg, Leverage

“Gorgeous new book on Julia Morgan reveals the heart of California’s first female architect. . . . By the end, Morgan feels close and dear.”

– Gina Gotsill, Local News Matters

“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.”

– Maile Pingel, Luxe + Interiors

“It’s a moment of resurgent appreciation for Morgan’s work. . . . Says Kastner . . . ‘You were honored and exalted by her building, whoever you are.’”

– Alison Walker, New York Magazine

“Kastner quotes copiously from Morgan’s personal correspondence, cited here more extensively than ever before. . . . the book is a good example of how to present historical architecture to a lay readership—with an engrossing personal story, a conversational narrative voice, lack of jargon, and a great many excellent illustrations both period and contemporary.”

– Martin Filler, New York Review of Books

“Travel diaries, confessional correspondence and construction site reports serve as eye-opening sources for Julia Morgan: An Intimate Biography of the Trailblazing Architect, by the historian Victoria Kastner.”

– Eve M. Kahn, New York Times

“Victoria Kastner . . . breaks new ground in . . . the handsome Chronicle Books volume . . . [which] features Alexander Vertikoff’s lush photography, in additional to archival shots of the life and work of this often underestimated pioneer.”

– Paul Wilner, Nob Hill Gazette

“New book on Julia Morgan is a full and splendid account of her life.”

Piedmont Exedra

“Current obsessions . . . on Margot’s reading list: Julia Morgan: An Intimate Biography of the Trailblazing Architect, from Chronicle Books.”


“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.”

– Chris Vognar, San Francisco Chronicle

“In Kastner’s enjoyably readable book, she gives readers a peek behind Morgan’s privacy curtain . . . revealing . . . details that flesh out the heretofore somewhat scanty public information about the legendary architect.”

– Kathe Tanner, San Luis Obispo Tribune

“Morgan was one of the most prolific, modest, and elusive characters in the history of the profession, as . . . Victoria Kastner demonstrates and decodes.”

– David Netto, Town & Country

“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.”

– Jennifer Reese, Washington Post

Hearst Castle: The Biography of a Country House

“A lively narrative documenting the unusually collaborative relationship between Hearst and Julia Morgan, ‘the first woman architect of prominence in America.’”

– Bill Goldstein, New York Times

“An illuminating tale at the intersection of capitalism and architecture.”

– Linda Hales, Washington Post

At a book-launch party for Hearst Ranch: Family, Land, and Legacy, with two of the book's biggest champions: Marty Cepkauskas, Hearst Corporation's Senior Director of Western Properties (left), and Stephen T. Hearst, Hearst Corporation's Vice-President and General Manager of Western Properties (right). Photo credit: SFGate.com

Hearst Ranch: Family, Land, and Legacy

“This handsome and lavishly illustrated book gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the famous estate.”

– June Sawyers, Chicago Tribune

Hearst’s San Simeon: The Gardens and the Land

“In her beautiful new book, Victoria Kastner focuses on the equally impressive estate, which encompasses 120 acres of luxuriant gardens.”

– Jared Paul Stern, Luxist