Lowney Handy

The Handy Writers Colony

Lowney Handy of Robinson was one of the most influential literary mentors of the mid-20th century but her approach to teaching the craft of writing involved a unique concept of home. Having mentored and shared an adulterous relationship with James Jones while he wrote From Here to Eternity in the aftermath of World War 2, Handy then founded a “writers colony” in nearby Marshall to mentor young aspiring authors.

Handy immersed her all-male colony residents in a spartan, masculine world of writing. They lived on strict daily schedules, with only limited weekly “leave” from the grounds. After weeks of copying literary works by famed authors, the men then split their days between writing in the morning and physical labor in the afternoons. Through its 1950s lifespan, the colony’s unique concept of home—shaped almost entirely by Handy’s vision of an ideal, rugged male writer—produced over a dozen books, including four adapted into Hollywood films. The colony ended with Handy’s death in 1964.


Object label:

From Here to Eternity

Foreign editions of From Here to Eternity sent to the Handy Writers Colony.

Courtesy of the University of Illinois, University Archives & Special Collections

Social Links