Issue #207  9/22/2014
Penelope Niven, Noted Steichen Biographer, Dies
Penelope Niven
Penelope Niven

On August 28th acclaimed author Penelope "Penny" Niven passed away at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center surrounded by her family.

Penelope Niven was the critically acclaimed author of Carl Sandburg: A Biography; Steichen: A Biography; and, most recently, Thornton Wilder: A Life.

Francesca Calderon-Steichen emailed, "She was an extraordinary woman, much loved by all who knew her, and she will be deeply missed."

Niven was awarded two honorary doctorates—one from her alma mater Wake Forest University, 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 25 years, she lectured across the United States and in Switzerland, Canada and Wales; served as an editor for various publications; and was a consultant for television films on Sandburg, Jones, and Steichen. She also spent 12 years as Writer-in-Residence at Salem College in Winston-Salem, where an international writing prize was named in her honor, along with the creative writing portfolio prize given each year to a Salem student.

She is survived by her daughter, Jennifer Niven, her sisters, Lynn Duval Clark and Doris Barron Knapp, her brother, William O. Niven, Jennifer's fiancé, Louis Kapeleris, as well as nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and her great-aunt, Frances Niven Gamble.

Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.org/) or the CP3 Foundation (the Chris Paul Foundation) (http://www.cp3foundation.org/).