Beverly Fey Lowry was born in 1938 in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Greenville, Mississippi. In 1960 she received her B.A. for drama/speech and English literature from Memphis State University. She married Glenn Lowry in 1960 (they are no longer married) and they had two sons.
Lowry's writing career began after she and her husband moved to Houston in 1965. She became an associate professor of fiction writing at the University of Houston in 1976, and in 1977 published her first novel, Come Back, Lolly Ray. That novel and the one that followed it, Emma Blue (1978) were set in the small Southern town of Eunola. In 1981 she published Daddy's Girl, a novel about a Houston honky-tonk singer/songwriter, and her relationship with a flamboyant father.
In 1981, Lowry and her family moved to San Marcos, Texas. During the next six years, both of Lowry's parents died, and her 18-year-old son Peter was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Lowry did not publish any books during this time.
In 1987, Lowry published the novel The Perfect Sonya, about a New York actress originally from Baytown, Texas, who supplements her income by swimming in a fish tank at a bar. The following year she published Breaking Gentle, which was set on a quarter-horse ranch in the Texas hill country. In 1992 she published the non-fiction book Crossed Over: A Murder, A Memoir, which fused the story of Death Row inmate Karla Faye Tucker, convicted for her part in a notorious Houston double murder, with Lowry's account of the death of her son. After moving to Los Angeles in 1992, she published The Track of Real Desires (1994), a novel that returns to the Eunola setting of her earlier books. More recent works have included the biography Her Dream of Dreams: The Rise and Triumph of Madam C.J. Walker (2003) and the novel Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life (2007).
Lowry has been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, and the Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award. Lowry is currently the director of the Creative Nonfiction Program at George Mason University. She lives in Austin, Texas.