Lois Leveen

Independent Historian

Lois Leveen dwells in the spaces where literature and history meet.   A former faculty member at UCLA and Reed College, Lois holds degrees from Harvard University, the University of Southern California, and UCLA. Her work has appeared in African American Writers, African American Review, The Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, MELUS (Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States), The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and on NPR. The Secrets of Mary Bowser (HarperCollins, 2012), her novel based on the true story of a former slave who became a Union spy in the Confederate White House, is a Target Book Club pick, bringing detailed research about African American history to popular audiences.  Lois gives talks about writing, history, and the meaning of race in American culture at universities, museums, and libraries around the country.

Is This Mary Bowser?: The Use and Misuse of Photographs to Reconstruct History

Lois Leveen occupies an unusual role as both historian and novelist.  Leveen is the author of The Secrets of Mary Bowser, which is based on the true story of a black woman who became a Union spy in the Confederate White House during the Civil … Read MoreIs This Mary Bowser?: The Use and Misuse of Photographs to Reconstruct History

Telling Secrets, Spying Freedom: A Novel Account of Mary Bowser’s Civil War Espionage

In the following account historian and novelist Lois Leveen describes how she came to write her critically acclaimed novel, The Secrets of Mary Bowser, the account of a black woman who served as a Union spy in the Confederate White House during the American Civil War. … Read MoreTelling Secrets, Spying Freedom: A Novel Account of Mary Bowser’s Civil War Espionage