Allen Drury : biography
Early life & ancestry
He was born on 2 September 1918 in Houston, Texas, to Alden Monteith Drury (1895-1975), a real estate broker and insurance agent, and Flora Allen (1894-1973), a legislative representative for the California Parent-Teacher Association. Drury was a direct descendant of Hugh Drury (1616-1689) and Lydia Rice (1627-1675), daughter of Edmund Rice (1594-1663), all of whom were early immigrants to Massachusetts Bay Colony.Edmund Rice (1638) Association, 2010. Descendants of Edmund Rice: The First Nine Generations. (CD-ROM)
Allen Stuart Drury grew up in Porterville, California and earned his B.A. at Stanford University in 1939. In the 1990s, he wrote three novels inspired by his experiences at Stanford: Toward What Bright Glory?, Into What Far Harbor?, and Public Men. After graduating from Stanford, Drury went to work for the Tulare Bee in Porterville, where he won a Sigma Delta Chi Award for editorial writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Drury enlisted in the U.S. Army on 25 Jul 1942 in Los Angeles and trained as an infantry soldier.National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
A Senate Journal
In late 1943, he was a 25-year old army veteran looking for work. A position as the United States Senate correspondent for United Press soon provided Drury not only with gainful employment, but also with the opportunity "to be of some slight assistance in making my fellow countrymen better acquainted with their Congress and particularly their Senate."
In addition to fulfilling his duties as a reporter, Drury also kept a journal of his views of the Senate and individual senators. Drury freely offered his first impressions of many senators: "Alben Barkley, the Majority Leader, acts like a man who is working awfully hard and awfully earnestly at a job he doesn’t particularly like."
He considered Minority Leader Robert Taft "one of the strongest and ablest men here," and felt that "Guy Gillette of Iowa and Hugh Butler of Nebraska vie for the title of Most Senatorial. Both are model solons, white-haired, dignified, every inch the glamorous statesmen."
Harry Truman was featured as his position changed from junior senator from Missouri to vice president to president in the course of Drury’s narrative. Given the period it covered, it is natural that Drury’s diary devoted considerable attention to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his contentious relations with the Senate. Drury wrote: "If he appears in a critical light, that is because this is how we saw him from the Hill."
In addition to the chamber’s personalities, Drury’s journal captured the events, large and small, of the 78th and 79th Congresses. He characterized this period as "the days of the War Senate on its way to becoming the Peace Senate."
At times the events Drury described had a national impact, such as FDR’s death or the Senate’s consideration of the United Nations Charter. In other cases, the effects were felt more clearly within the Senate community, such as the resignation of Majority Leader Barkley, the Senate’s rejection of a congressional expense allowance, or the death of Secretary of the Senate Edwin Halsey.
Although written in the mid-1940s, Drury’s diary was not published until 1963. A Senate Journal found an audience in part because of the great success of Advise and Consent, Drury’s 1959 novel about the Senate’s consideration of a controversial nominee for Secretary of State.
Drury lived in Tiburon, California from 1964 until his 1998 death of cardiac arrest. Drury had completed his 20th novel, Public Men set at Stanford, just two weeks before his death. He died on 2 September 1998 at St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco, California on his eightieth birthday. Drury was never married.