Winwar was born Francesca Vinciguerra in Taormina, Sicily and came to the United States through Ellis Island in June 1907. Her pseudonym Winwar is an Anglicization of her birth name; she was required to change her name as a condition of publishing her first book. Her husbands were Communist propagandist and writer V.J. Jerome, educator Bernard Grebanier, mystery novelist Richard Wilson Webb, and Dr. Francis D. Lazenby, classics scholar and librarian at the University of Notre Dame.
She is best known for her series of romanticized biographies of nineteenth century English writers. She was also a frequent translator of classic Italian works into English and published several romantic novels set during historical events.
- (1927), The Ardent Flame, New York: Century.
- (1928), The Golden Round, New York: Century.
- (1929), Pagan Interval, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.
- (1930), trans., The Decameron of Giovanni Boccacio, New York: Limited Editions Club.
- (1933), Poor Splendid Wings: The Rossettis and Their Circle, Boston: Little, Brown.
- (1935), The Romantic Rebels, Boston: Little, Brown.
- (1937), Gallows Hill, New York: Holt.
- (1938), Farewell the Banner, ..."Three Persons and One Soul"...: Coleridge, Wordsworth and Dorothy, New York: Doubleday, Doran.
- (1938), Puritan City: The Story of Salem, New York: R. M. McBride.
- (1940), Oscar Wilde and the Yellow Nineties, New York: Harper.
- (1941), American Giant: Walt Whitman and His Times, New York: Harper.
- (1943), The Sentimentalist: A Novel, New York: Harper.
- (1947), George Sand and Her Times: The Life of the Heart—A Biography, Garden City: Garden City Publishing.
- (1948), The Saint and the Devil: Joan of Arc and Gilles de Rais—A Biographical Study in Good and Evil, New York: Harper.
- (1949), ed., Ruotolo, Man and Artist, New York: Liveright.
- (1950), trans., Joseph Melry and Camille de Locle, Don Carlo: Opera in Four Acts, New York: F. Rullman.
- (1951), The Immortal Lovers: Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning—A Biography, New York: Harper.
- (1952), The Land of the Italian People: Illustrated from Photos, Philadelphia: Lippincott.
- (1953), The Eagle and the Rock, New York: Harper.
- (1953), Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo, [reprinted in 1967 as All about Napoleon], New York: Random House.
- (1954), The Last Love of Camille: A Novel, New York: Harper.
- (1954), Queen Elizabeth and the Spanish Armada, New York: Random House.
- (1956), Wingless Victory: A Dual Biography of Gabriele d'Annunzio and Eleanore Duse, [reprinted in 1957 as Wings of Fire: A Biography of Gabriele d'Annunzio and Eleonore Duse], New York: Harper.
- (1957), Elizabeth, Cleveland: World.
- (1959), The Haunted Palace: A Life of Edgar Allan Poe, New York: Harper.
- (1959), Cupid, the God of Love, New York: Random House.
- (1961), Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The Conscience of an Era, New York: Random House.
- Joan of Arc
- Elizabeth: The Romantic Story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning
- Elizabeth: A Biography
- In the Shadow of a Saint
- Wepman, Dennis (2010). "Winwar, Frances". American National Biography Online:. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
- Barolini, Helen (1985). The Dream Book: An Anthology of Writings by Italian American Women. Schocken Books. p. 6. ISBN 0-8052-3972-3.
- "Frances Winwar Wed To Richard W. Webb; Novelist and Mystery Writer Married in Rahway, N. J.". The New York Times. 22 May 1943.
- "Frances Winwar". LibraryThing. 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012.