Sharon Kay Penman (born August 13, 1945) is an American historical novelist. In UK editions of her books, Penman has dropped the middle name "Kay" and the initial which she originally used.
Penman is best known for two trilogies, the Welsh Prince Trilogy and the Plantagenet Trilogy. In addition, Penman is the author of four medieval mysteries, the first of which, The Queen's Man, was a finalist for the Best First Mystery Edgar Award in 1996. Penman's novels and mysteries are set in England, France, and Wales, and are about English and Welsh royalty during the Middle Ages.
Penman's first novel, The Sunne in Splendour, is a stand-alone novel about King Richard III of England and the Wars of the Roses. The book was written when she was a college student, but Penman lost the manuscript, which she later rewrote entirely. Penman is best known for meticulous research of the characters, settings, and events presented in her fiction.
Born in New York City, Sharon Kay Penman grew up in New Jersey. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where she majored in history. She also received a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Rutgers University School of Law, and later worked as a tax lawyer.
As a student, Penman researched and wrote the manuscript of the historical novel The Sunne in Splendour that chronicled the life of Richard III. She believed Richard III was unfairly treated by historians so decided to write about his life which became The Sunne in Splendour. When the 400-page manuscript was stolen from her car, Penman found herself unable to write for the next five years. Eventually Penman rewrote the story and by the end spent twelve years on the book while simultaneously practicing law. Of practicing law, she admits she "considered it penance."
Penman lives in New Jersey, and in the early 1980s moved to Wales to research her second book, Here Be Dragons. She keeps a second home in the Welsh mountains where the history inspires her and provides material for her novels.
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