Born in Nottingham, England, he was the younger brother of Frank Wright and emigrated with his family to New Zealand in 1877, settling in Auckland. It was not until 1889 that Walter Wright began to exhibit his paintings and teaching his brother in the Wright's studio in Victoria Arcade.
Returning to the United Kingdom, Walter Wright attended the Heatherley Art School from 1894-1897 and studied with Stanhope Forbes in Newlyn, Cornwall in 1901-2.
Walter painted mainly in oils turning to watercolours only after Frank's death, although he was always quite attracted to pastels. Late in his painting life he completed some of his best works - large oils of the Auckland Harbour painted loosely with thin oil using an almost watercolour technique. At the time however, this work was ignored by local critics.
Walter Wright collaborated with his brother in the preparation of the book New Zealand: Painted by F & W Wright by William Pember Reeves, which was published in 1908 with 75 colour reproductions.
Exhibiting with the Auckland Society of Arts from 1889 to 1925 Walter Wright is represented in the collections of the Auckland City Art Gallery, The Hocken Library and the Suter Gallery.