Lowry, Beverly 1938–

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Lowry, Beverly 1938–

(Beverly Fey Lowry)

PERSONAL: Born August 10, 1938, in Memphis, TN; daughter of David Leonard and Dora (Smith) Fey; married Glenn Lowry, June 3, 1960; children: Colin, Peter (deceased). Education: Attended University of Mississippi, 1956–58; Memphis State University, B.A., 1960. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, dancing.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of English, George Mason University, Robinson A487, 4400 University Dr., Fairfax, VA 22030. Agent—Maxine Groffsky, 2 5th Ave., New York, NY 10011. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: University of Houston, Houston, TX, former associate professor of fiction writing, beginning 1976; George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, associate professor of English; has also worked as an instructor at the University of Montana and University of Alabama, and as an actress. Member of humanities board, Cultural Arts Council of Houston; board of directors, Houston Festival.

MEMBER: International PEN, Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Poets and Writers, Texas Institute of Letters (member of executive board).

AWARDS, HONORS: National Endowment for the Arts fellow, 1979–80; awards from Guggenheim Foundation, Black Warrior Review, Texas Institute of Letters, and Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters.

WRITINGS:

Crossed Over: A Murder, a Memoir (nonfiction), Knopf (New York, NY), 1992.

Her Dream of Dreams: The Rise and Triumph of Madam C.J. Walker (biography), Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.

NOVELS

Come Back, Lolly Ray, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1977.

Emma Blue, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1978.

Daddy's Girl, Viking (New York, NY), 1981.

The Perfect Sonya, Viking (New York, NY), 1987.

Breaking Gentle, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.

The Track of Real Desires, Knopf (New York, NY), 1994.

Contributor of stories, articles, and reviews to periodicals, including Falcon, Viva, Playgirl, Redbook, and Forum.

SIDELIGHTS: Beverly Lowry's debut novel, Come Back, Lolly Ray, is set in a fictionalized version of Greenwood, Mississippi, where the author grew up. Because they did not have the right sort of social contacts, Lowry's family was never accepted into Greenwood's society. Her novels depict a similar situation in fictional Eunola, Mississippi. In Come Back, Lolly Ray, the title character believes that her award-winning baton twirling may win her some respect, but when she becomes pregnant out of wedlock, she finds that there is no place for her in Eunola. Emma Blue focuses on Lolly's daughter. Left in the care of her grandparents, Emma Blue understands her place is on the bottom rung of Eunola's social ladder. Nevertheless, she is fascinated by the town's history and studies it carefully. Lowry's third Eunola novel, The Track of Real Desires, exposes the differences between the public and private lives of the town's upper-class residents.

Lowry suffered a devastating personal loss in 1984, when her son Peter was killed in a car accident. In the aftermath of that tragedy, the author felt lost as to what direction to take with her writing. She found herself fascinated by the story of Karla Faye Tucker, a young woman who was sentenced to death for her part in two murders. Lowry began visiting Tucker in prison and eventually wrote a book about her: Crossed Over: A Murder, A Memoir. In addition to telling Tucker's story, the author integrated memories of Peter into the narrative.

Lowry examines a very different sort of life in Her Dream of Dreams: The Rise and Triumph of Madam C.J. Walker. Walker was the first African-American woman millionaire. Born on the plantation where her parents had been slaves, she made her fortune developing and selling hair care products designed especially for African-American women. Booklist reviewer Vanessa Bush praised the author's "meticulous research," but even so, there are many areas of Walker's life that remain unknown. Lowry brought her "skill as a novelist" to bear on these areas, and "the result is a vividly told story," noted Linda V. Carlisle in the Library Journal.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Contemporary Southern Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

PERIODICALS

Belles Lettres, fall, 1994, Gale Harris, review of The Track of Real Desires, p. 77.

Biography, summer, 2003, Kevin Baker, review of Her Dream of Dreams: The Rise and Triumph of Madam C.J. Walker, p. 562.

Black Issues Book Review, September-October, 2003, Wayne Dawkins, review of Her Dream of Dreams, p. 26.

Booklist, April 15, 1994, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Track of Real Desires, p. 1515; April 1, 2003, Vanessa Bush, review of Her Dream of Dreams, p. 1360.

Entertainment Weekly, April 22, 1994, Kate Wilson, review of The Track of Real Desires, p. 53.

Houston Chronicle, July 4, 2003, Lorenzo Thomas, review of Her Dream of Dreams.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2003, review of Her Dream of Dreams, p. 287.

Library Journal, March 15, 2003, Linda V. Carlisle, review of Her Dream of Dreams, p. 91.

Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2003, Kevin Baker, review of Her Dream of Dreams, p. R14; May 18, 2003, David L. Ulin, interview with Beverly Lowry, p. E4.

New Republic, January 19, 2004, Justin Driver, review of Dream Weaver, p. 34.

New York Times, July 13, 2003, Thomas Fleming, review of Her Dream of Dreams.

Publishers Weekly, June 8, 1992, review of Crossed Over, p. 48; March 7, 1994, review of The Track of Real Desires, p. 54; April 4, 1994, Wendy Smith, interview with Beverly Lowry, p. 51; March 24, 2003, review of Her Dream of Dreams, p. 72.