Study Guide

Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry Biography

Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Lois Lowry is an award-winning writer of children's books whose work is extremely popular with both young readers and adult critics. The daughter of a military dentist, Lowry traveled frequently as a child and young adult, living in Hawaii (where she was born in 1937), New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan. An excellent reader, when she went to school Lowry was advanced from first to third grade. Books Lowry read as a child, such as The Yearling (by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, 1938) and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (by Betty Smith, 1943), have greatly influenced her work, particularly A Summer to Die and Autumn Street.

After attending two years of college, Lowry married a naval officer and traveled with him to California, and subsequently to South Carolina, Massachusetts, and Maine. Her love of Maine and her talent as a photographer are evident in Here at Kennebunkport, a collection of her photographs which she published in 1978. After giving birth to four children in five years, Lowry returned to college. Upon graduation, she edited textbooks, such as Black American Literature and Literature of the American Revolution, worked as a free-lance journalist and photographer, and published short fiction for adults which often dealt with childhood.

At the encouragement of an editor who had read her short stories, Lowry decided to try writing for children and young adults. As she explains in an autobiographical...

(The entire section is 390 words.)

Lois Lowry Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Two time Newbery Medal winner Lois Lowry was born March 20, 1937, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her father, Major Robert E. Hammersberg, was a dentist serving in the same army hospital where Lois was born. Lois's mother, Katherine, was a schoolteacher. Lois has an older sister, Helen, and a younger brother, Jon.

In 1940, the Army moved the Hammersbergs to New York, and in 1942, after the outbreak of WWII, Lois's father was posted to the Pacific theater. Lois's mother then moved Lois and her sister to Amish Country in Pennsylvania to live near her mother's family. This early, prolonged separation from her beloved father and the very close relationships that it engendered between Lois, her mother, and her two siblings strongly influenced many of the books that she would later write.

Jealous of her older sister's newly learned skill and fascinated by the relationship between letters and sounds, Lois learned to read when she was only three years old. Lois has always liked doing things on her own terms and in her own way. Even as a very young girl, she preferred reading to the more typical children's games and pastimes. Partly because of her exceptional reading ability, Lois was allowed to skip second grade and graduated from an all girls' high school at the age of sixteen. Even then she knew she wanted to become a novelist.

When Lois was nineteen, she dropped out of college to marry an young naval officer, becoming Lois Lowry. She has four...

(The entire section is 530 words.)

Lois Lowry Biography (Novels for Students)

Lois Lowry was bom March 20. 1937, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her parents, Katharine (Landis) and Robert E. Hammersberg (an army dentist), were separated at the onset of World War II. Lowry spent the war years in Pennsylvania, where her mother's family lived. Early childhood influences included the presence of the Amish and an adoring grandfather. In 1948, when Lowry was eleven, the family was reunited in Japan, where her father was then stationed. In her 1994 Newbery Medal Acceptance Speech, she identified her experiences in Tokyo— living in the close confines of an American enclave named Washington Heights and making exciting forays on her bicycle into the Japanese streets—as amongst the significant memories which led to the writing of The Giver.

Lowry was educated at boarding school and Pembroke College. She attended Brown University but left after two years to marry an attorney, Donald Grey Lowry. She began writing seriously in the early 1970s, after all of her four children (born within a span of five years) were in high school. She was divorced in 1977, the year in which her first novel, A Summer to Die, was published. Prior to that, she had written two textbooks and a number of magazine articles and short stories.

This first novel described the relationship of two adolescent girls—thirteen-year-old Meg and her older sister, Molly, who is dying of leukemia. Meg gains sympathy and therapeutic friendship from an old...

(The entire section is 549 words.)

Lois Lowry Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Lois Lowry was born on March 20, 1937, in Honolulu, Hawaii. She attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and the University of Southern Maine, where she earned her bachelor's degree in English in 1972. Lowry divides her time between an apartment on Boston's Beacon Hill and an 1840 farmhouse in New Hampshire. Her novel Number the Stars won the Newbery Medal in 1990.

Lowry writes about the ordinary events and emotions of everyday life, such as first dates, making friends, embarrassment, and fear of failure. Lowry often contrasts the imagined and wished dreams of the young with the realities that they must confront.

(The entire section is 99 words.)