A Guide to the Beverly Lowry Papers, 1950-1998
Beverly Lowry was born August 10, 1938, in Memphis, Tennessee, and moved with her family at age six to Greenville, Mississippi. She attended the University of Mississippi (1956-58) and graduated with a B.A. from Memphis State University in 1960. She married Glenn Lowry in June, 1960, and moved with him to Manhattan. There, she pursued acting and experimented in writing. After relocating to Houston in 1965, and sending the younger of her two sons to nursery school Lowry began to write stories, some of which blossomed into novels. Lowry began teaching fiction writing as an associate professor at the University of Houston in 1976, while also pursuing acting, and serving on boards for the Cultural Arts Council of Houston, and for Houston Festival. Her fiction writing has typically been set in Texas and Mississippi. Her first two novels, Come Back, Lolly Ray and Emma Blue were both set in Eunola, Mississippi a fictional town much like her hometown of Greenville. Her next three novels and one work of non-fiction were set in Texas, with her most recent novel, The Track of Real Desires, being again set in the fictional Eunola, Mississippi.
The Lowrys lived just outside San Marcos along the San Marcos River from 1981-1991. One of the Lowrys’ two sons, Peter, died in a hit-and-run accident on the highway from San Marcos to their home in 1984. This experience and other personal losses in the early 1980s “caused a marked change in the tone of Lowry’s fiction. Gone is her unqualified faith in the future; present is a new preoccupation with fate or chance, even a hint that felicity may invite disaster,” (Contemporary Southern Writers, St. James Press, 1999). These themes of isolation and alienation appear in The Perfect Sonya (1987), The Track of Real Desires (1994), and clearly in Crossed Over : A Murder, A Memoir (1992). Beginning in 1989, Lowry approached and visited convicted pick-axe murderer Karla Faye Tucker, on death row in Hunstville, Texas. Crossed Over relates the story of Karla Faye Tucker as well as some of Lowry’s own personal story, resulting in “far more than the usual true-crime tale. Lowry interwove the story of her own troubled son with a chilling account of Tucker’s dangerously out-of-control life to achieve an understanding of the human being behind an ostensibly inhuman act; her leap of imagination and empathy enabled her, at last, to make peace with Peter’s death,” (Texas Monthly, Feb. 2001). Lowry moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s, and currently teaches at George Mason University, in Virginia. She continues to write essays and non-fiction, and has been working on a biography of Madame C. J. Walker, the first African-American woman to become a self-made millionaire.
Numerous typescript drafts, correspondence, notes, clippings, journals and photographs, ranging in date from 1950-1998, document Beverly Lowry’s writing career. The bulk of the papers relate to four of Lowry’s seven published books, with The Perfect Sonya and Crossed Over being the most fully represented.
Series 1: Works (1950-1998)
Subseries A: Novels (1978-1998) Annotated typescripts for Daddy’s Girl, The Perfect Sonya, Crossed Over, and The Track of Real Desires comprise the bulk of this subseries, with extensive research notes, correspondence, and photographs related to Crossed Over.
Subseries B: Poetry (n.d.) Works in this subseries are undated, although they appear to date from early on in Lowry’s career. Poems have been arranged in alphabetical order by title; most are handwritten or typed.
Subseries C: Short Stories (n.d.) Lowry’s short stories have been arranged in alphabetical order. Although they are undated, it is probable that some date from as early as the late 1970s, when Lowry began writing short stories, some of which became novels. One story at the end of this subseries is by Glenn Lowry.
Subseries D: Articles / Reviews by Lowry (1979-98) This subseries includes a sampling of Lowry’s published articles and reviews of books by others. Apart from one annotated galley, the remaining six articles and reviews are strictly photocopies of the published item.
Subseries E: Research papers and school notes (1956-59, n.d.) These research papers and school notes are from Lowry’s drama and music coursework at the University of Mississippi and at Memphis State University, and are arranged in alphabetical order.
Subseries F: Sketches, n.d. One folder of pencil sketches of flowers, human figures, and other subjects, undated and unsigned, but likely by Lowry.
Series 2: Correspondence (1978-90, n.d.)
This series is comprised of one folder of correspondence including personal notes and publishers’ requests of Lowry to read specific books and comment on them.
Series 3: Clippings (1977-82, n.d.)
Newsclippings in this series relate to Lowry’s writing career, and have been arranged chronologically.
Series 4: Publicity (n.d.)
Four undated photographs are included in this series: 3 black and white photographs of a Come Back, Lolly Ray manuscript exhibit, and 1 color photograph of Lowry at booksigning for the short story compilation, Common Bonds, with other authors.
Series 5: Computer disks (n.d.)
Fourteen 5.5” floppy disks, many labeled as “Pauline”, which was a working title for The Perfect Sonya.
Series 6: Personal (1960-75, n.d.)
This series includes journals, a college diploma, and materials related to Lowry’s sons. The three bound journals are undated, and include notes about Lowry’s daily life and writing projects. The college diploma is from Memphis State University, 1960, and includes a torn photograph of Lowry from that time period. The materials related to Lowry’s sons include poetry and drawings to and by Peter and Colin Lowry.
Series 7: Artifacts (n.d.)
This series contains one item: a Kaypro word processor.
Open for research.
Beverly Lowry Papers, Southwestern Writers Collection/Texas State University-San Marcos.
Gifts donated by Beverly Lowry, 1994-1998. Contact the archivist for information about additional materials from this writer that have not yet been fully processed.
Processed by Amanda York, 2001.
Come Back, Lolly Ray. New York: Doubleday, 1977; Emma Blue. New York: Doubleday, 1978: Daddy’s Girl. New York: Viking, 1981; The Perfect Sonya. New York: Viking, 1987; Breaking Gentle. New York: Viking, 1988; Crossed Over: A Murder, A Memoir. New York: Knopf, 1992; The Track of Real Desires. New York: Knopf, 1994.
Detailed Description of the Collection