Born in Memphis, Tennessee, on 10 August 1938, novelist Beverly Fey Lowry moved to Greenville with her family when she was six years old. An excellent student, Fey was also a competitive swimmer and majorette in high school. She spent two years at the University of Mississippi before transferring to Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis), where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1960.
Fey soon married stockbroker Glenn Lowry and moved with him to New York City, where she took acting classes, spent a great deal of time writing a journal, and gave birth to the first of two sons. In 1965 the Lowrys moved to Houston, where their second son was born the following year.
In 1973 Lowry enrolled in a writing workshop at the University of Houston, where she met Mississippi fiction writer Donald Barthelme, who read and edited her work. She joined the creative writing faculty at Houston in 1976 and published her first novel, Come Back, Lolly Ray (1977), about a female high school football hero in the fictional town of Eunola, Mississippi, modeled after Greenville. Her next novel, Emma Blue (1978), is also set in Eunola, while her third novel, Daddy’s Girl (1981), is set in Houston.
In 1980 Lowry moved to San Marcos, Texas, where she taught creative writing at Southwestern Texas State University. Lowry ultimately followed her somewhat whimsical and overtly humorous first novels with more darkly ironic works of fiction—The Perfect Sonya (1987) and Breaking Gentle (1988). This turn in tone is most likely attributable to the death of both of Lowry’s parents and of her younger son, who was killed in a 1984 hit-and-run accident. In addition, she and her husband divorced after thirty years of marriage.
Lowry turned to nonfiction with Crossed Over: A Murder, a Memoir (1992), in which she recounts her struggle to cope with her son’s death through her relationship with Karla Faye Tucker, convicted and ultimately executed for her role in a Houston double homicide. The book drew wide critical praise and comparisons to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Lowry followed Crossed Over with a return to Eunola in The Track of Real Desires (1994). After a nine-year hiatus, she published Her Dream of Dreams: The Rise and Triumph of Madam C. J. Walker (2003), a nonfiction account of the first female African American millionaire, a speculative biography, Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life (2007), and Who Killed These Girls? The Unsolved Murders that Rocked a Texas Town (2017).
Lowry’s short stories, reviews, and articles have appeared in countless publications. She has served as president of the Texas Institute of Letters (1982–84) and has taught in creative writing programs at schools across the country, including the Universities of Alabama and Montana and George Mason University.
- Joe David Bellamy, Literary Luxuries: American Writing at the End of the Century (1995)
- Joseph M. Flora and Robert Bain, eds., Contemporary Fiction Writers of the South: A Biographical-Bibliographic Sourcebook (1993)
- Houston Chronicle (9 November 2008)
- Merril Maguire Skaggs, in Women Writers of the Contemporary South, ed. Peggy Whitman Prenshaw (1984)