Lois Lowry is a highly acclaimed author who published her first novel, A Summer to Die, in 1977. Since then, she's written more than 40 books for children and teens. She is known for tackling difficult subject matters, dystopias, and complex themes in works for young audiences. Many of her books have been challenged or even banned in some schools and libraries, including The Giver. Published in 1993, the book has since become a standard work in many schools. Resonating with a wide audience, Lowry’s books have been translated into 27 languages. For her outstanding contributions to literature, the author has received numerous awards and recognition.
Twice the recipient of the Newbery Medal, given each year for the most distinguished contribution to children's literature by an American author, Lowry has also received the Regina Medal, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the Mark Twain Prize, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Bank Street College Award, the National Jewish Book Award, the Chicago Tribune Book Award, and countless other honors for her work. To date, Lowry has been nominated three times for the biennial international Hans Christian Andersen Award: the highest recognition available to creators of children's books.
Reflecting on her long career, Lowry can trace her success as a writer to her early time spent at Brown University. She enrolled there in 1954, which at the time was known as Pembroke College, the now-defunct women's branch of Brown University. Lowry was only 17 and majored in writing. Based on recommendations from her previous teachers, she was even able to take some upper-level writing courses right away. Despite her success in these classes, however, Lowry decided to leave Brown after her second year because she wanted to get married. But that didn't stop her alma mater from having a lasting impact on the future award-winning author.
"So I was taking a lot of English courses at Brown and some writing courses," she reflected. "The literature courses I think are the ones that were the more valuable, actually. But any rate, Brown was certainly encouraging to me."
Despite her early departure, Lowry has maintained strong ties with her alma mater. For instance, one of Lowry’s essays, titled, "Train Rides" (her account of her pathway to Brown as a member of the Class of 1958) was included in The Brown Reader, a 250th anniversary collection of writings about life at Brown by 50 authors who are Brown alumni. More recently, she was back on campus in 2019 as a feature guest for The Brown University Women's Leadership Council's podcast, where she spoke directly about Brown's influence on her life and work. Lowry received an honorary doctorate from Brown in 2014, during the 250th anniversary of the University's founding in 1764. Since its earliest days, Brown has conferred such honors on only its most distinguished alumni.