Shirley Knight Hopkins is an internationally known stage, film, and television actress. She been given 21 lifetime achievement awards for her work and nominated for every major award in her long and distinguished career. Knight has been nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, in 1960 for The Dark at the Top of the Stairs and in 1962 for Sweet Bird of Youth, has won the Tony award in 1975 for Kennedy's Children plus two other nominations. She was nominated eight times for Emmy Awards (winning three).,She has also netted a Golden Globe and Volpi Cup for Best Actress for her role in the 1967 film Dutchman. She has received many honors from her home state of Kansas, including the Kansan of the Year award in 2000 and the Governor's Distinguished Artist Award in 2007.

Knight was born in Gossell, Kansas and spent her youth in Mitchell, Kansas and Lyons, Kansas. She showed multiple talents at an early age. By the time she was eight, she sang with an orchestra on radio and placed second in a state-wide talent show. At 14, she wrote a short story which was published in a national magazine. She attended Phillips University, Enid, Oklahoma, then Wichita State University, and has a Doctor of Fine Arts Degree from Lake Forest College. With dreams of becoming an actress, she went to Hollywood at the age of 20. A year later, she already had her first credit on the television series Matinee Theater. By the early 1960s, she garnered nation-wide exposure with Oscar nominations for her supporting role in the films The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1960) and Sweet Bird of Youth (1962).

By mid-decade, Knight was well on her way to becoming a major film star, but she wasn't content with just having money and fame. She decided that the only way to become a real actress was to gain experience on the New York stage, and so, she left the film industry to study and work back East. Her Broadway career was successful and in 1966, Knight flew to England to try her luck in British theater.Also active in television, Knight has appeared in numerous mini-series and made-for-television films. She has received three Emmy Awards and has been nominated seven times, winning for her guest performances in the series thirtysomething and NYPD Blue. For her work in Indictment: The McMartin Trial, she received a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award.

A dedicated mother, Knight has spent much of her time caring for her two daughters, Kaitlin (an actress), and Sophie Hopkins (a writer) from her second marriage to British playwright/screenwriter husband John Hopkins.