Penelope Niven is the author of critically acclaimed biographies of poet Carl Sandburg and photographer Edward Steichen. Her books include CARL SANDBURG: A BIOGRAPHY; STEICHEN: A BIOGRAPHY; VOICES AND SILENCES, co-authored with the actor James Earl Jones, and praised as a classic on acting; and SWIMMING LESSONS, a memoir. Her Steichen biography has just been translated into Chinese. CARL SANDBURG: ADVENTURES OF A POET, her biography for children, was awarded an International Reading Association Prize "for exceptionally distinguished literature for children," one of six books honored among publications from 99 countries. She is presently working on a biography of Thornton Wilder, to be published in October 2012 by HarperCollins.
She has been awarded two honorary doctorates, three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Thornton Wilder Visiting Fellowship at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, among other honors. She received the North Carolina Award in Literature, the highest honor the state bestows on an author. During the past twenty years she has lectured across the United States and in Switzerland, Canada and Wales, and has served as an editor for various publications and a consultant for television films on Sandburg, Jones, and Steichen. She has recently retired after twelve years as Writer-in-Residence at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Penelope Niven is the mother of award-winning author Jennifer Niven (THE ICE MASTER; ADA BLACKJACK: A TRUE STORY OF SURVIVAL IN THE ARCTIC; VELVA JEAN LEARNS TO DRIVE; THE AQUA-NET DIARIES; and VELVA JEAN LEARNS TO FLY.)