Peggy was born in Belmont Massachusetts in 1944 to a working-class Irish Congregationalist family with 6 siblings. She completed a BFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Massachusetts College of Art, and moved to New York with her daughter Shara in 1967. A few years later she saw the drag troupe Hot Peaches performing in Sheridan Square and joined the group. In 1977 Hot Peaches went on a ‘Gay Tour of Europe’ where Peggy wrote her first monologue and met Lois Weaver who was touring with Spiderwoman Theatre at the time. In 1978 Peggy joined Spiderwoman, and by 1980 Lois and Peggy formed their own company after collaborating on the performance Split Britches: The True Story.
Peggy has received five NYFA Fellowships and three OBIE Awards including an OBIE for Performance in 1987 for Dress Suits for Hire and in 1999 for Menopausal Gentleman. She was the recipient of the 1995 Anderson Foundation Stonewall Award, The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Theatre Performer of the Year Award in 2005, the 2012 Edwin Booth CUNY Award for her ‘significant impact on theatre and performance in New York’, and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Queen Mary University of London in 2017.
Split Britches’ collection of scripts, Split Britches Feminist Performance/Lesbian Practice, edited by Sue Ellen Case, won the 1997 Lambda Literary Award for Drama.
Her book A Menopausal Gentleman, edited by Jill Dolan and published by Michigan Press, won the 2012 Lambda Literary Award for LBGT Drama. It includes scripts of her solo performances: You’re Just Like My Father, Menopausal Gentleman, To My Chagrin and Must. Peggy was the 2011 recipient of the Ethyl Eichelberger Award for the creation of RUFF, a musical collaboration that explores her experiences of having a stroke. Peggy was named a Senior Fellow by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance in 2014, an award given to scholars, artists and activists affiliated with the institute and whose work illustrates the highest achievement in the field of performance and politics.