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Monday, September 25, 2017

Bringing history to life

“When I settled to writing seriously, which would be in my 30s, I did expect to be published eventually, but my aspirations weren't very high. A published book and a few appreciative readers was my idea of heaven.” – Jo Beverley

Mary Josephine "Jo" Beverley, who was born in 1947 and died in 2016, went far beyond those aspirations, publishing 42 novels, dozens of short stories and novellas, and a number of research pieces.  Born in England where she grew up and studied history, she moved to Montreal, Canada in her mid-30s and began writing career as a historical, quasi-romance novelist. 

Noted for her attention to historical detail, both to the eras and the people who inhabited those time periods, she created communities of interesting interlinked characters with terrific dialogue – traits that won her numerous writing awards.  “I've always loved history, from my youngest memories,” she once remarked.  “My father enjoyed the great stories of history, like Hereward the Wake, Robin Hood, and Richard the Lionheart, and he shared them with me.  I went on to do a degree in history, though I found it rather dry, because it was mostly about politics rather than dashing individuals!”

              So, she kept the history and invented her own “dashing” characters, which won her legions of loyal readers and a “Readers Choice Lifetime Achievement Award.”  Shortly before her death from cancer, she said she had one wish unfulfilled.

"What I'd love to do would be to bring a person from the past to me.  In that case I'd pick Jane Austen, because I'd like to know what really made her tick.  It's my opinion that she was inhibited by her family and a desire to do the right thing.  Away from all that, I believe she'd show new facets and enjoy the adventure."

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