Ephron was born to screenwriters and playwrights Henry and Phoebe Ephron. Nora was one of four sisters who, due to the influence of their parents, all became writers.
Ephron initially worked as a journalist and novelist before transitioning to screenwriting in the 1980s, penning the scripts for Silkwood, Heartburn, When Harry Met Sally and Cookie before transitioning into directing in the 1990s. She made her directorial debut with the 1992 film This is My Life however Ephron received international acclaim the following year with Sleepless in Seattle starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The film made over $200 million worldwide and is still one of the most commercially successful movies to be directed by a woman.
Ephron directed steadily throughout the rest of her life however she is perhaps best known for her second movie with Hanks and Ryan, You’ve Got Mail, a remake of The Shop Around the Corner, which was another critical and commercial success .
In total Ephron directed 8 films. Her career is unusual in that she was one of the few women able to work completely within the American studio system. As such her work was widely seen, reviewed, and appreciated within her lifetime.
Ephron died in 2012. The Tribeca Film Festival named The Nora Ephron Prize in her honour which is now awarded yearly to a film by a female writer or filmmaker with a distinctive voice.