Lois Leveen

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Lois M. Leveen is an American writer and educator based in Portland, Oregon.


The Secrets of Mary Bowser, Civil War fiction and Historical nonfiction[edit]

Leveen's first novel was The Secrets of Mary Bowser (2012, William Morrow, ISBN 9780062107916), based on the life of Mary Bowser, "a Richmond slave who became a spy for the Union army."[1][2][3][4] In August 2012, the novel was chosen as a Target club pick[5] and named one of the Oregonian's "Top 10 Northwest Books of 2012."[6]

Leveen also writes historical articles about the Civil War as a contributor to the New York Times Disunion blog, which tracks the causes of the Civil War. She has written about the life of Mary Bowser in "A Black Spy in the Confederate White House," as well as articles on the enslaved and free black community in Richmond, Virginia; on Joseph Reid Anderson, controversial owner of Tredegar Ironworks; and on Chimborazo, a large army hospital in Richmond.

Juliet's Nurse[edit]

Leveen's second novel Juliet's Nurse (2014, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 9781476757445) reimagines the story of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet from the point of view of the nurse.[7] Prior to the book's publication, Leveen gave talks at conferences around the world about how her studies of fourteenth-century Italian history shaped the novel.[8][9] As part of her research for this project, Leveen developed an interest in apiculture and worked with the City of Portland to ease regulations for local beekeepers.[10]

Creative Nonfiction[edit]

Her essay "The Ice Age", about her father's mid-life crisis as a figure skater appeared in The Oregon Literary Review in 2008.[11]

Her Christmas-themed piece "Gay Apparel" was featured in the 2010 Lambda Literary Award winning[12] anthology Portland Queer[13][14]

In 2008, her short story describing her experiences with and love for the sidewalk "Free Box" was published in an anthology called, Our Portland Story,[15] a book about Portland, Oregon by Portlanders.

Critical Essays[edit]

In 2008 her piece critical of the television character Dora the Explorer appeared in Bitch Magazine[16]

In 2003, her essay "Pitiful strategies : Richard Delgado's legal storytelling and the politics of racial representation" appeared in CrossRoutes, the meanings of "race" for the 21st century, an international collection of critical race theory.[17]


Her poem "Welcome water" is inscribed on the wall of a hospital in Oregon.[18]

Her poem "Cognative Dissonance" was featured in the Jewish feminist journal Bridges in 2009[19]

Her poem "Walloon at Walgreens" appeared in Monkey Puzzle # 8 in 2009[20]


Leveen is Jewish. She published several articles for the Daily Forward in June 2012.[[File:[21]]] Since 2008 she has been an ethics columnist ("The Shmeticist") for The Jew and the Carrot, a Jewish food blog.[22] She has also written for Interfaith Family[23] and she has spoken at the Oregon Jewish Museum.


The non-profit organization Literary Arts has run "Delve Readers' Seminars" since 2005. Lois Leveen has led several of these:[24]


Reading the Literary Lineage of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky


Breaking the Yoke: The Anti-Slavery Literature that Changed America
Call and Response: Delving into African American Art & Literature


We, Too, Sing America: 20th-Century Writers & The Legacy Of Whitman
Illustrating Identity In The Age Of The Graphic Novel
Exploding The Canon: How Native American, Asian American And Latina Women Remade American Literature


Shakespeare: The Tragedies of Empire


Shakespeare: The Tragedies of Empire
Charles Dickens: Bleak House
William Faulkner & Toni Morrison: Absalom, Absalom! & Beloved
Nathaniel Hawthorne & Gustave Flaubert: The Scarlet Letter & Madame Bovary


Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man


Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

She previously taught at Reed College[25] and UCLA[26]


Lois Leveen read her personal essay on pseudo-death and rising long-distance rates on episode 68 of the NPR variety show Live Wire in June 2008.[27]

Television: Mission Hill[edit]

Lois was the inspiration and model for the character of Natalie Leibowitz-Hernandez on the Adult Swim cartoon Mission Hill,[28] which was created by three of her long-time friends. She auditioned for the voice of her own character, but actress Vicki Lewis was determined to be even more “Lois-y” than Lois Leveen herself, and she was cast in the role instead.[29]


Since 2007 Leveen and her partner have created five videos, including Four Act Foreman with characters drawn from their idiosyncratic selection of objects as part of Performance Works NorthWest's annual Richard Foreman Mini-Festival. Lois served on the Board of Portland's Performance Works NorthWest from 2006 to 2010.

She also served as academic advisor for two multimedia series America's History in the Making and Artifacts and Fiction, produced by Annenberg/CPB.


After an encounter with Bay Area accordion and pyrotechnic maestro Kimrick Smythe,[30] Lois embraced the accordion fully. Her increasing proficiency and resurrection of Christmas carols and Yiddish[31] standards became a staple of the annual San Francisco Lingerie Thanksgiving.[32] She plays accordion in The Stumptown Family Ramblers, a band created by Sarah Dougher.[33][34]


  1. ^ Harper Collins Author page, retrieved 20 July 2012 http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/38440/Lois_Leveen/index.aspx
  2. ^ "The North of the South". The New York Times Disunion blog. 24 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Other Major Anderson". The New York Times Disunion blog. 18 June 2011. 
  4. ^ "Mary Bowser novel". Mary Bowser novel. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "Target Club Pick Aug 2012: The Secrets of Mary B... : Target". Target. 
  6. ^ "The Oregonian's top 10 Northwest books of 2012: No. 10 'The Secrets of Mary Bowser' by Lois Leveen". OregonLive.com. Retrieved 2017-04-29. 
  7. ^ Simon and Schuster author page, retrieved 19 April 2014 http://books.simonandschuster.com/Juliets-Nurse/Lois-Leveen/9781476757445
  8. ^ Framing Premodern Desires Conference page retrieved 19 April 2014 http://www.utu.fi/en/units/hum/sites/tucemems/news-and-events/colloquiums/premoderndesires/Pages/Program.aspx
  9. ^ Shakespeare 450 Conference page retrieved 19 April 2014 http://www.shakespeareanniversary.org/shake450/panels/panel-16-shakespeare-and-architecture/
  10. ^ "March 2015 Beeline – Portland Urban Beekeepers". Retrieved 2017-04-29. 
  11. ^ "The Ice Age". Oregon Literary Review, Vol. 3, No. 1. Winter–Spring 2008. 
  12. ^ "Lambda Literary". Lambda Literary. 
  13. ^ Gore, Ariel (ed.). Portland Queer: Tales of the Rose City. Lit Star Press, 2009
  14. ^ "Portland-centric anthology on gay life". The Oregonian. June 4, 2009. 
  15. ^ Our Portland Story, Volume One.
  16. ^ Leveen, Lois. "Factory Girl: Dora the Explorer and the Dirty Secrets of the Global Industrial Economy". Bitch Magazine Issue 40, "Genesis", Summer 2008. 
  17. ^ Boi, Paola (ed.), CrossRoutes, the meanings of "race" for the 21st century. Münster : Lit ; Piscataway, NJ : Distributed in North America by Transaction Publishers, 2003.
  18. ^ Poetry for westside medical center, retrieved April 19, 2014 https://northwest-hospitals.kaiserpermanente.org/about-our-hospitals/medianews/poetry-westside-medical-center
  19. ^ "Bridges" (PDF). jhu.edu. 
  20. ^ "Walloon at Walgreens," in Monkey Puzzle #8. Denver, Colorado: Monkey Puzzle Press, 2009
  21. ^ The Daily Forward, 28 June 2012, http://blogs.forward.com/the-arty-semite/tags/lois-leveen/ Retrieved 7/20/2012
  22. ^ "The Jew and the Carrot". 
  23. ^ "Interfaith Family". 
  24. ^ "Past Delve Seminars". 
  25. ^ "Reed Magazine". 
  26. ^ "UCLA course website". 
  27. ^ "Episode 68". livewireradio.org. 
  28. ^ https://twitter.com/thatbilloakley/status/2150587298750464
  29. ^ https://twitter.com/thatbilloakley/status/2150853913870336
  30. ^ "Smythe's Accordion Center". smythesaccordioncenter.com. 
  31. ^ Yiddish language
  32. ^ "The Mix". San Francisco Bay Guardian. December 3, 2003. 
  33. ^ "The Stumptown Family Ramblers". Facebook. 
  34. ^ "Biography". sarahdougher.net. 

External links[edit]