Monday, August 7, 2023

Guest Blogger Jennifer L. Wright: Before Bonnie & Clyde

By Guest Blogger Jennifer L. Wright

Bonnie and Clyde.

Were there ever two names more synonymous with one another? In the annals of history, there have been many famous pairs, even more sets of famous lovers, but the names of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow stand alone as perhaps the world’s most romantic yet infamous duo. Their lives and their crimes are irrevocably intertwined. So much so that they have merged from two separate people into a single entity, the history of each practically ignored until the fateful meeting when two halves became whole—and wreaked havoc on a fascinated public.

Bonnie and Clyde; photo: Public Domain

You cannot have Bonnie without Clyde, and vice versa. For all their flaws and faults, there is an air of mysticism around them, the sense that they were destined to be together, true love in its rawest (and most toxic) form.

Which is why I so surprised to discover during research for my Bonnie and Clyde-inspired book The Girl from the Papers that it was not always Bonnie and Clyde. Long before their names ever graced the front of newspapers across the country, there was Bonnie…and Roy.

Bonnie Parker grew up in Cement City, Texas, where she lived with her mother, two siblings, and grandparents. Though it was a poor, working-class suburb, even from an early age, Bonnie had grandiose dreams. She was pretty and smart, commanding attention in every room she entered, and she never lacked for friends or beaus. In another life, Bonnie may have succeeded in her hopes for Broadway or Hollywood, but the chains of poverty were not easily broken, especially during the depression. So, instead, she decided to follow the path that so many women took during that time to ensure their well-being:

She decided to find herself a man.

Roy Thornton and Bonnie (left); photographer
James R. Knight
Bonnie met Roy Thornton in high school. He was tall, good-looking, and well-dressed, three things that ranked very high on Bonnie’s list. Plus, he had money to take Bonnie out on dates, never mind its questionable origins. It took only a short, whirlwind courtship for Bonnie to fall head-over-heels in love. She even got a tattoo of two hearts, labeled “Bonnie” and “Roy,” connected by an arrow, on the inside of her right thigh. The pair were wed on September 25, 1926, just a few weeks before her sixteenth birthday.

The problems started almost immediately afterwards.

Though Bonnie hadn’t cared about how Roy made his money while they were dating, as his wife, she demanded to be brought into the know. He refused. Bonnie nagged. He disappeared, once for ten days at a time, then again for nineteen days, with never an explanation about why or where when he returned. It only caused Bonnie to get more angry. Roy started drinking, which Bonnie hated. There were not-unfounded rumors of an affair. Fights got more explosive and, soon, Roy began using his fists.

Even a hopeless romantic like Bonnie could no longer deny the truth: her fairy tale love had turned into a nightmare.

In a diary entry dated January 1, 1928, seventeen-year-old Bonnie wrote, “I wish to tell you that I have a roaming husband with a roaming mind. We are separated again for the third and last time…I love him very much and miss him terribly. But I intend on doing my duty. I am not going to take him back.”

And she didn’t. Though he finally reappeared in her life in January 1929, Bonnie refused to let him come home. And when he was picked up just a few months later for robbery, ultimately getting sentenced to five years in prison, Bonnie declined any invitation to visit him, nor did she write him any letters. She never saw him again.

But she also never divorced him.

Only a few short months later, in January 1930, Bonnie met Clyde Barrow at a house party celebrating her brother’s marriage, and the two began their passionate but ill-fated rendezvous with destiny.

And though it would be these names that would ultimately go down in history, when the pair met their grisly end at the hands of police in May 1934, Bonnie still had the pair of hearts tattooed on her right thigh.

And she was still wearing Roy Thornton’s wedding ring.

Jennifer L. Wright
has been writing since middle school, eventually earning a master's degree in journalism at Indiana University. However, it took only a few short months of covering the local news for her to realize that writing fiction is much better for the soul and definitely way more fun. A born and bred Hoosier, she was plucked from the Heartland after being swept off her feet by an Air Force pilot and has spent the past decade traveling the world and, every few years, attempting to make old curtains fit in the windows of a new home. She currently resides in New Mexico with her husband, two children, and one rambunctious dachshund. Visit her website at:

The Girl From the Papers

Inspired by one of America’s most notorious couples, Bonnie and Clyde, Jennifer L. Wright delivers a riveting tale set during the public enemy era of the Great Depression.

Beatrice Carraway has dreams. Although she’s aged out of the childhood pageant circuit, she’s intent on carrying her talents all the way to the big screen—if only she can escape the poverty of West Dallas first. But as the Great Depression drags the working class further and further under, Beatrice struggles just to keep herself, her mother, and her younger sister afloat. After a string of failed auditions, she feels defeated.

And then in walks Jack Turner.


  1. Welcome, and thank you for posting today. This was new information to me, and a fun fact to learn about!

    1. Thank you so much, Connie! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Bonnie and Clyde were absolutely fascinating to research, and I really enjoy being able to share some of the things I learned. :)

  2. I have to say until today I didn't even know Bonnie and Clyde's Story, only their name