Ward was born in Newark, Ohio, in 1940 and grew up on the south side of Chicago and in New Delhi, India. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1962, with a bachelor’s degree in studio art.
He was senior picture editor at Encyclopedia Britannica in Chicago during the mid-1960s, founding editor of Audience magazine from 1970 to 1973, and managing editor and editor of American Heritage magazine from 1977 to 1982. For fourteen years he wrote a monthly column for American Heritage called “The Life and Times.”
Ward has collaborated with Ken Burns since 1984 and has been the sole or principal script writer for HUEY LONG; STATUE OF LIBERTY; THOMAS HART BENTON; THE CIVIL WAR; EMPIRE OF THE AIR: THE MEN WHO MADE RADIO; BASEBALL; THE WEST; THOMAS JEFFERSON; FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT; NOT FOR OURSELVES ALONE: THE STORY OF ELIZABETH CADY STANTON AND SUSAN B. ANTHONY; JAZZ; MARK TWAIN; UNFORGIVABLE BLACKNESS: THE RISE AND FALL OF JACK JOHNSON, and THE WAR. Ward also wrote or co-wrote companion volumes for seven of these series.
He was the principal or sole writer of Nixon; Lindbergh; Reminiscing in Tempo; The Kennedys; The Last Boss; TR; and Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided - all part of PBS’s “American Experience” series. For his work in documentary films, Ward has won two Writers’ Guild Awards, seven Christopher Awards and six Emmys.
Ward is also an independent historian and biographer, the author of six other books, among them A First-Class Temperament: the Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt, which won the National Book Critics Circle and Los Angeles Times Awards for Best Biography, the Francis Parkman Award of the Society of American Historians in 1989, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is currently at work on two books: A Disposition to be Rich, a biography of his great-grandfather the nineteenth century swindler, Ferdinand Ward; and a book about the Partition of India. He writes frequently about India and Indian wildlife.
Geoffrey Ward lives in New York City with his wife, writer Diane Raines Ward.