Nancy Wright Beasley

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Nancy Wright Beasley
Born(1945-09-02)September 2, 1945
Radford, Virginia
Alma materVirginia Commonwealth University
Hollins University
Notable worksIzzy's Fire and The Little Lion

Nancy Wright Beasley (born 2 September 1945) is a Virginia author who primarily writes about the Holocaust. Her most notable books are Izzy's Fire: Finding Humanity in the Holocaust (2005) and The Little Lion (2016).

Early life & education[edit]

Nancy Wright Beasley was born in Radford, Va., to Protestant parents, Posie H. Wright and Beulah Mae Sutphin. She grew up in Christiansburg, Va., and earned a bachelor's degree from Virginia State University in 1981.

Her professional writing career began in 1979 when she was hired as a state correspondent for The Richmond News Leader in Richmond, Va. As a correspondent based in South Hill, Va., Beasley covered news and features in Mecklenburg County, Virginia,[1] and was one of the lead reporters covering the largest death row escape in U.S. history, (Mecklenburg Correction Center, Boydton, VA, May 31, 1984), which gave Beasley her first copyrighted work.[2] She resigned from the newspaper in 1986 to pursue corporate writing, and relocated to Richmond in 1994. There she became a columnist and contributing editor for Richmond magazine, a position she held from 1998-2014.[3][4]

While in Richmond, Beasley pursued higher education, earning a master's degree from the Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Mass Communications in 2000 and a master of fine arts in Children's Literature from Hollins University in 2011.[1]


She published her first book, Izzy's Fire: Finding Humanity in the Holocaust, in 2005 after seven years of research and writing.[1] The story, which tells of how a Catholic farm family saved thirteen Jews from the Holocaust in Lithuania, is recreated at the Virginia Holocaust Museum, where the book is sold. A revised edition containing new photographs, and new material, was published in 2015.[5][6][7]

She subsequently wrote The Little Lion: A Hero in the Holocaust as her master's thesis at Hollins University. The young adult historical novel, also set in Lithuania in Kovno Ghetto, is based on the life of a teenage Jewish boy and tells how he helped some family members survive and escape the ghetto, where approximately 40,000 people lost their lives, the vast majority of them Jews. The Little Lion was adapted for the stage by Richmond, Va., playwright Irene Ziegler, and was performed at Smith Creek Mill Theatre in South Chesterfield, Virginia, from January to March 2016.[8][9]

Beasley also wrote a third book, Reflections of a Purple Zebra: Essays of a Different Stripe, a collection of 60 of Beasley's columns originally published in Richmond magazine. The book was published in 2007.[5]

In 2018, Beasley began a new project, Saving Sara[10], a play based on The Little Lion that depicts the true story of how Sara Gillman was saved from almost certain death in Kovno Ghetto by her teenage uncle. A trailer[11] promoting Saving Sara debuted in June 2018 in Toronto, Canada, at the Rotary International conference.[12] Once produced, the play can be optioned for use by schools and colleges, as well as by Rotary clubs, to raise funds for PolioPlus, an international program run by Rotary to provide free polio inoculations throughout the world. Beasley herself is a polio survivor.

Beasley is frequently invited to make author appearances and presentations on her books at schools, colleges, and universities in Virginia and elsewhere. Her author appearances include an author's panel discussion at the Conference on Baltic & Scandinavian Studies at Yale University in March 2014,[13] and one at Eliezer: The Jewish Society at Yale University, in 2014.

She has also traveled to Lithuania and Israel to lecture on her book and her research. In September 2010, she toured Israel as the guest of Gad Moshe Shalom, son of Emmanuel Shlom, one of the Holocaust survivors depicted in Izzy's Fire.[14] In 2010 she also toured Lithuania, speaking at the U.S. Embassy library, several schools and colleges, and at the residence of Anne E. Derse, who was then the U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania.[15] In 2014 she was the keynote speaker for a program sponsored by the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, which was held in the British Embassy.[16]



  • Beasley, Nancy Wright (2007). Reflections of a Purple Zebra : Essays of a Different Stripe (1st ed. ed.). Richmond, Va.: Tandem. p. 350. ISBN 978-1928662907.
  • Beasley, Nancy Wright (2015). Izzy's Fire: Finding Humanity In The Holocaust. Posie Press. p. 308. ISBN 978-0-9861828-0-8; 978-0-9861828-1-5.
  • Beasley, Nancy Wright (2016). The Little Lion: A Hero in the Holocaust. Posie Press. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-9861828-2-2; 978-0-9861828-3-9.


  1. ^ a b c Wren, Celia. "Jewish teenager's heroism in World War II is subject of 'The Little Lion'". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  2. ^ Bilyeu, Ashley N. "Beasley named 'outstanding'". South Hill Enterprise. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  3. ^ Kollatz Jr., Harry (30 December 2015). "A Mighty Roar". Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Holocaust Writer Nancy Wright Beasley to Visit RU". Radford University. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  5. ^ a b Eisinger, Suzanne. "'The Little Lion: A Hero in the Holocaust' provides better understanding of dark period in history". Daily Press. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  6. ^ Lohmann, Bill. "Lohmann: A powerful story that won't let her go". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  7. ^ "'Izzy's Fire' Puts Human Face on Holocaust". Christian Broadcasting Network. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  8. ^ FARRELL, TONY. "Theater review: 'The Little Lion'". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  9. ^ Minns, Simona. "Nancy Wright Beasley. "Lopšelis" buvo minimas "Mažojo liūto" spektaklyje". Draugas. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  10. ^ Times-Dispatch, BILL LOHMANN Richmond. "Lohmann: Polio hardly a forgotten disease for Chesterfield woman who survived it and still fights for its eradication worldwide". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  11. ^ "Saving Sara Trailer Revised WMV.wmv". Dropbox. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  12. ^ "Toronto, Canada | Rotary Convention". Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  13. ^ "Yale Baltic-Scandinavian Studies Conference Preliminary Program 13-15 March 2014 Yale University New Haven, CT" (PDF). Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  14. ^ "Gentile chronicler of Holocaust stories tours Israel". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  15. ^ "Review: World premier of 'The Little Lion' is powerful and thought-provoking". The Progress-Index. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  16. ^ "Yom HaShoah Commemorations in Lithuania". International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  17. ^ "YWCA Announces 2006 Outstanding Women Awards Recipients". 21 February 2006. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  18. ^ "Nancy Wright Beasley headlines club meeting". Chesterfield Observer. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  19. ^ MALONE, MANDY. "Cast Your Vote In Annual People's Choice Awards Contest". Daily Press (Virginia). Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  20. ^ "VCU Alumni Book and Author Luncheon features author Nancy Wright Beasley". Virginia Commonwealth University. Retrieved 18 September 2016.

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