Son of a doctor, Penzoldt lived both world wars as a nurse. After finishing his studies at the art academies of Kassel and Weimar, was established in Munich in 1919, where he founded a workshop of sculpture. In 1938 he worked occasionally for the publishing house S. Fischer in Berlin, and later also as a theatre critic for the newspaper "Frankfurter Zeitung". From 1953 he was dramatic advisor at the State Theatre in Munich.
His work is composed of a large number of figures difficult to define, whose destinies, sometimes adventurous, Penzoldt describes with wit and imagination, influenced by authors such as Charles Dickens and Thomas Mann. In his novel Der arme Chatterton (poor Chatterton, 1928) reflects the curious biography of English writer with the backdrop of an 18th-century complex. His most famous work, however, is Die Powenzbande (the band Powenz, 1930), in which portrays some pungency and parodic tone, the story of the family Powenz, a chronicle that characterizes him as a brilliant storyteller. He also published numerous essays and plays, marked, as well as its production in prose, by his grace and humanistic sensibility. Your minor prose works are contained in volumes titled Die Kunst, das Leben zu lieben und andere Betrachtungen (the art of loving life and other observations, 1975) and prose eines Liebenden (prose of a lover, 1975).