Lois Lowry

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Lois Lowry
Lowry at the 2016 Texas Book Festival
Lowry at the 2016 Texas Book Festival
BornLois Ann Hammersberg[1]
(1937-03-20) March 20, 1937 (age 83)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
GenreChildren's literature, fantasy
Notable works
Notable awardsNewbery Medal
1990, 1994
Margaret Edwards Award
SpouseDonald Grey Lowry (1956–1977; divorced; 4 children, 2 sons and 2 daughters)

Lois Lowry (born Lois Ann Hammersberg on March 20, 1937) is an American writer. She is the author of several books for children and young adults, including The Giver Quartet and Number the Stars. She is known for writing about difficult subject matters and complex themes in works for young audiences.

Lowry has won two Newbery Medals: for Number the Stars in 1990 and The Giver in 1994.[2] Her book Gooney Bird Greene won the 2002 Rhode Island Children's Book Award.

Personal life[edit]

Lowry was born on March 20, 1937, in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii,[3] to Katherine Gordon Landis and Robert E. Hammersberg. Initially, Lowry's parents named her "Cena" for her Norwegian grandmother but upon hearing the news, her grandmother telegraphed and instructed Lowry's parents that the child should have an American name.[4]

Lowry was the middle child, with an older sister, Helen, and a younger brother, Jon.[5] Helen died of cancer in 1962,[6] but Lowry and her brother still share a close relationship.[7]

Lowry's father was an army dentist, whose work moved the family all over the United States and to many parts of the world. Lowry and her family moved from Hawaii to Brooklyn, New York, in 1939, when Lowry was two years old. They relocated in 1942 to her mother's hometown, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, when Lowry's father was deployed to the Pacific during World War II.[6]

After the war, Lowry and her family moved to Tokyo, Japan, where her father was stationed from 1948 to 1950. Lowry went through junior high school at a school for the children of military families, The American School in Japan, and returned to the United States to attend high school. Lowry and her family briefly lived in Carlisle again in 1950 before they moved to Governors Island, New York, where Lowry attended Curtis High School, on Staten Island. She began attending Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights, New York, in 1952, and she graduated in 1954 before she attended Brown University.[6]

Lowry continued at the school for two years and left after her marriage to Donald Grey Lowry, a U.S. Navy officer, in 1956.[6] Together, they had four children: the daughters Alix and Kristin and the sons Grey and Benjamin.[6]

While raising her children, Lowry completed her degree in English literature at the University of Southern Maine[8] in Portland, Maine, in 1972. After earning her B.A., she continued at the school to pursue graduate studies.

In 1977, at the age of 40, Lowry had her first book, "A Summer to Die", published. She and Donald Lowry divorced that year.[6]

Lowry's son Grey, a USAF major, was killed in the crash of his fighter plane in 1995.[9] Lowry has acknowledged that it was the most difficult day of her life, and she said, "His death in the cockpit of a warplane tore away a piece of my world. But it left me, too, with a wish to honor him by joining the many others trying to find a way to end conflict on this very fragile earth."[7]

Lowry now has homes in both Massachusetts and Maine and remains an active writer and speaker.[6]

Writing career[edit]

Lois Lowry at an event for the film adaption of The Giver in 2014

Lowry began her career as a freelance journalist. In the 1970s, she submitted a short story to Redbook magazine, which was intended for adult audiences but written from a child's perspective.[6] An editor at Houghton Mifflin then suggested to Lowry that she write a children's book.[6] Lowry agreed and wrote A Summer to Die which Houghton Mifflin published in 1977 when she was 40 years old. The book has themes of terminal illness, based on Lowry's own experiences with her sister Helen.[6] Lowry continued to write about difficult topics in her next publication, Autumn Street (1979), which explores themes of coping with racism, grief, and fear at a young age.[6] The novel is told from the perspective of a young girl who is sent to live with her grandfather during World War II, based on by Lowry's own experiences during the war.[1] The same year she published Autumn Street, Lowry also published her novel Anastasia Krupnik, the first installment in the Anastasia series.[1] The series continued until 1995.

Lowry's work Number the Stars was published in 1989, and received multiple awards, including the 1990 Newbery medal.[2] Lowry received the Newbery medal again in 1994, for The Giver (1993).[2] After writing The Giver, she published two companion novels which take place in the same universe: Gathering Blue (2000) and Messenger (2004). In 2012, she published Son, which tied all three of the previous books together. As a set, they are considered The Giver Quartet.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

In her works, Lowry has explored such complex issues as racism, terminal illness, murder, the Holocaust, and the questioning of authority, among other challenging topics. Her writing on such matters has brought her both praise and criticism. In particular, The Giver (the first novel in the Quartet) has been met with a diversity of reactions from schools in America since its release in 1993; some schools have adopted it as a part of the mandatory curriculum, while others have prohibited the book's inclusion in classroom studies.[citation needed]


Lowry won the Newbery Medal in 1990 for her novel Number the Stars, and again in 1994 for The Giver.[2] For Number the Stars, Lowry has also received the National Jewish Book Award in 1990, in the Children's Literature category,[10] and the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award in 1991.[citation needed]

In 1994, Lowry was awarded the Regina Medal.[11]

In 2004, her book Gooney Bird Greene won the Rhode Island Children's Book Award.[12]

Lowry has been nominated three times for the biennial international Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest recognition available to creators of children's books.[13][14] She was a finalist in 2000, a U.S. nominee in 2004, and a finalist in 2016.[15]

In 2007, she received the Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association for her contributions writing for teens.[16] The ALA Margaret Edwards Award recognizes one writer and a particular body of work for "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature".[17] Lowry won the annual award in 2007 for The Giver (published 1993). The citation observed that "The Giver was one of the most frequently challenged books from 1990–2000" — that is, the object of "a formal, written attempt to remove a book from a library or classroom." According to the panel chair, "The book has held a unique position in teen literature. Lowry's exceptional use of metaphors and subtle complexity make it a book that will be discussed, debated and challenged for years to come...a perfect teen read."[16]

In 2011 she gave the May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture; her lecture was titled "UNLEAVING: The Staying Power of Gold".[18] She was also awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters by Brown University in 2014.[19] [20] In addition, she holds honorary degrees from The University of Southern Maine, Elmhurst College, Wilson College, St. Mary's College, and Lesley University.[citation needed]




  1. ^ With the release of Son (2012), the Giver series has been redefined as a finished "quartet" of fantasy novels. While Gathering Blue (2000) and Messenger (2004) were only loosely related companions to The Giver (1993), Son ties all three storylines together, with "heroes and fates colliding in a final, epic struggle."
    Wasserman, Robin (October 14, 2012). "The Searcher". The New York Times Book Review. The New York Times Co.: 1. Retrieved November 2, 2012.

See also[edit]

  • Merkel Landis, grandfather – started the Christmas Savings Club


  1. ^ a b c d "Lois Lowry". Biography. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922–Present". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). ALA. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
  3. ^ "Lois Lowry" Archived March 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Penn State University.
  4. ^ Lois Lowry Archived September 27, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "My Brother Jon". Lois Lowry. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Lowry, Lois Archived November 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b Lois Lowry – Biography Archived January 28, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Lois Lowry Archived January 28, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Kois, Dan (October 3, 2012). "The Children's Author Who Actually Listens to Children". New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  10. ^ "Past Winners". Jewish Book Council. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  11. ^ "Regina Medal Recipients – Catholic Library Association". Cathla.org. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  12. ^ "Rhode Island Children's Book Award Winners and Nominees". Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  13. ^ "2004". Hans Christian Andersen Awards. International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY).
      "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". IBBY. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  14. ^ "Candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 1956–2002" Archived January 14, 2013, at Archive.today. The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Pages 110–18. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online (literature.at). Retrieved 2013-07-17.
  15. ^ "The Hans Christian Andersen Award Nominees for 2016". Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  16. ^ a b "2007 Margaret A. Edwards Award". Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). American Library Association (ALA).
      "Edwards Award". YALSA. ALA. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  17. ^ "About the Edwards Award". Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  18. ^ "SLCL to Host 2011 Arbuthnot Lecture with Lois Lowry – St. Louis County Library". Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  19. ^ "Brown confers nine honorary degrees". Brown University. May 25, 2014. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  20. ^ Pina, Alisha (May 25, 2014). "Brown graduates told to question authority, challenge labels". The Providence Journal. Retrieved May 27, 2014. Also to receive honorary degrees were Lois Lowry, award-winning children’s author best known for “The Giver”
  21. ^ Rosen, Martha, Luann Toth, and Virginia M. J. Suhr (May 1990). "Your Move, J.P.! (book)". School Library Journal. 36 (5): 107.
  22. ^ "The Giver". Movie Insider. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  23. ^ "The Willoughbys". IMDB. Retrieved April 29, 2020.

External links[edit]