Jo Beverley, née Mary Josephine Dunn (born September 22, 1947 in Lancashire, England) is a prolific British-Canadian writer of popular historical romance novels.
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 been given several awards.
Mary Josephine Dunn was born September 22, 1947 in Lancashire, England. At the age of eleven she went to an all-girls boarding school, Layton Hill Convent, Blackpool. At sixteen, she wrote her first romance, with a medieval setting, completed in installments in an exercise book. She read history and American studies at Keele University in Staffordshire from 1966 to 1970. 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 June 24, 1971, she married Ken Beverley, whom she met at Keele. 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 not to be usable 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 At this time she was still unpublished but devoted her time to caring for her two young sons and participating in the woman-centered childbirth movement which made her especially careful to portray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 Jo’s writing to act as her agent. That same year, the family moved to Ottawa where Beverley became a founding member of the Ottawa Romance Writers’ Association. Formed in 1985, ORWA became her “nurturing community” for the next twelve 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 and with her ensuing success in the genre, speculative writing was allowed to slide, though elements of it appear periodically in some of her romances and novellas.
Her works have been translated into many languages and have won her many awards including five RITAs, two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times, The Golden Leaf Award and the Readers’ Choice Award. A member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Honor Roll, Beverley is the sole Canadian romance author inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame.