Mary Josephine “Jo” Beverley (née Dunn; 22 September 1947 – 23 May 2016) was a prolific English-Canadian writer of historical and contemporary romance novels from 1988 to 2016.
Her works are regarded as well researched, filled with historical details, and peopled by communities of interlinked characters, stretching the boundaries of the historical romantic fiction genre. They have been translated into several languages, and she has received multiple awards.
Early life and education
Mary Josephine Dunn was born 22 September 1947 in Lancashire, England. She was of Irish descent.
At age 11, she went to an all-girls boarding school, Layton Hill Convent, Blackpool. At 16, she wrote her first romance, with a medieval setting, completed in instalments in an exercise book. She read history and American studies at Keele University in Staffordshire from 1966 to 1970, where she earned a degree in English history. The broad-based learning of Keele's foundation year and the availability of archived Regency-period newspapers were useful resources to enable her to develop her fiction writing.
On 24 June 1971, she married Ken Beverley, whom she met at Keele. Career
After graduation, she quickly attained a position as a youth employment officer. She stayed in this profession until 1976, working first in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, and then in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire.
In 1976, Beverley moved to Canada, where her scientist husband was invited to do post-doctoral research at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. When her professional qualifications proved unusable in the Canadian labour market, Beverley decided to develop her early interest in creative writing.
Many of her “Rogue” characters were created in an initial manuscript entitled A Regency Rape. At this point, Beverley did not have a fixed idea of the narrower literary boundaries drawn by the traditional Regency romantic novel and thus created a literary hybrid. A precursor of the Regency historical novel, the work had a more varied cast of characters which, while respectful of the world of Georgette Heyer, broadened the scope and intensity of the genre. At this time Beverley was still unpublished, but devoted her time to caring for her two young sons and participating in the woman-centred childbirth movement, which made her especially careful to portray births in her novels realistically but positively.
The turning point in Beverley's writing career came when her move to Montreal led to her attendance at a talk on “The state of romance in fiction” by Janet Adams, at Beaconsfield Library on 23 May 1984. The executive advisor of the Writers' Association for Romance and Mainstream demystified the creative process for the budding author and was sufficiently impressed by Beverley's writing to act as her agent.
That same year, the family moved to Ottawa, Canada, where Beverley became a founding member of the Ottawa Romance Writers' Association (ORWA). Formed in 1985, ORWA became her “nurturing community” for the next 12 years.
In 1988, Beverley, who was actively writing science fiction as well as romance, was a finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. That same year, she sold her first romance novel. With her ensuing success in the latter genre, she allowed speculative writing to slide, though elements of it appear periodically in some of her romances and novellas.
Beverly wrote at multiple blogs:
Jo Talk, a solo blog where “she post[ed] anything that interest[ed] her”
Minepast, a solo blog where “she share[d] interesting tid-bits of history she discover[ed] as she researche[d] her novels”
the UK Historical Romance blog
Word Wenches, a group blog comprising posts by eight women “historical authors who blog about history, writing, and anything vaguely related”
Soon after university, Beverley and her husband Ken moved to Ottawa, Canada. Beverley became a Canadian with dual citizenship, and she and Ken raised their two sons there, then moved to Victoria, British Columbia.
More recently, she and Ken moved back to England, and they lived in Dawlish, Devon., though they were considering returning to Victoria permanently. Later life and death In 2012, Beverley survived a bout with cancer and, for the past four years, was in remission. However, the cancer returned and moved very quickly. Beverley succumbed to it on May 23, 2016. She died in a care home in Yorkshire, England that once was a convent, with her husband and her pal Charlie, “the Cabbage Patch Kid”, by her side.