Beverley Simons, née Rosen, was born on March 31, 1938 in Flin Flon, Manitoba. When Simons was twelve, her family moved to Vancouver and then, finally, Edmonton. As a child, she studied piano, and at the age of 16, she was offered full scholarships to the Juilliard School, Conservatoire de Paris, and the Toronto Conservatory of Music. In 1956, also at the age of 16, Simons won a national writing contest for high school students for her verse drama Twisted Roots.
In 1956, Simons began studying English literature at McGill University. She was involved in the founding of the McGill University Players’ Club. In 1958, Simons transferred to the University of British Columbia. She graduated in 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in English and Theatre. Simons continued to write in this period; in 1958, she accepted a scholarship to study creative writing at the Banff School of Fine Arts, where she produced her first full-length play, My Torah, My Tree, an exploration of her Jewish heritage. Simons also acted, starring in The Lark, which was produced by Vancouver Little Theatre and written by Jean Anouilh.
On August 24, 1958, Simons married Sidney B. Simons, a criminal lawyer. In 1959, after her graduation, Simons and her husband spent two years travelling through Europe. Simons began work on a new play during this time, The Elephant and the Jewish Question. Simons completed this play on her return to Vancouver in 1961 and began writing another entitled Green Lawn Rest Home. From 1961-1965, Simons’ three children were born, and she produced three film scripts that had been commissioned by C.B.C. TV: Encounter, If I Turn around Quick, and The Canary. The Canary was the only film that was produced.
In 1967, Simons was awarded a Canada Council ‘B’ grant, which enabled her to commence work on Crabdance, the play she is best known for. Simons used grant money to fund a trip to Japan, Hong Kong, and India, where she engaged with local dramatic conventions. In 1969, Crabdance was produced by A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle, Washington. In 1972, it was produced at the Playhouse Theatre Company in Vancouver, British Columbia. In this period, Simons also completed four one-act plays, Preparing, Prologue, Triangle, and The Crusader. In 1975, Talonbooks, a Vancouver-based publisher, released two volumes of Simons’ dramatic works: Crabdance and the collected one-act plays (in a volume entitled Preparing).
In 1976, Simons published a new play entitled Leela Means to Play in an issue of Canadian Theatre Review dedicated entirely to her work (issue nine). This play was chosen for workshop production the following year at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Centre in Waterford, Connecticut, but it was never produced. At this point, few of Simons’ plays had been produced, so she transitioned into writing prose.
In the following years, Simons began work on a trilogy of fiction novels entitled Da Vinci’s Light. A short excerpt from one of these novels was published in 1985 (Vancouver Fiction Book). Some of Simons’ short fiction pieces were published in Vancouver-based magazines, including PRISM international and the best of blewointment. Simons also contributed an essay on world drama to the program series for Expo ’86 in Vancouver. In addition, Simons wrote manuscripts for several children’s books. In 1991, she was awarded a Canada Council ‘A’ grant. From this point, she returned to creating film scripts and plays, most notably the play Now You See It. Although Simons worked on many projects throughout the 1990s and 2000s, none of her new literary works were produced or published. Crabdance, however, was produced again in 1994 at Sigma, an alternative arts festival in Bordeaux, France.
Simons gave lectures throughout her writing career, especially from 1973-1994. Simons tended to speak at universities, including Simon Fraser University (1973, 1983), University of British Columbia (1987), York University (1994), and University of Bordeaux (1994). In 1984, she was artist in residence at the University of Lethbridge. She often gave readings at these institutions as well. Finally, Simons served as jury member for various Canada Council grants from 1990-1991.