Virginia Cleo Andrews was born on June 6, 1923, in Portsmouth, Virginia, where she later attended high school and then studied art. Crippled by rheumatoid arthritis as a young woman, she had to use crutches and later a wheelchair. Andrews never married and always lived with her mother. Secretive about the details of her life, particularly her age, Andrews related little about her early adult years. She resided in Manchester, Missouri, and Apache Junction, Arizona, but had returned to Portsmouth by the time she began earning professional acclaim late in the 1970s. Later she moved to Virginia Beach. Andrews worked as a portraitist, commercial artist, and fashion illustrator, but she eventually turned to writing. Often typing in bed or propped up in a body brace, she wrote thirty to forty pages a night for years. Her only publications before 1979 were pieces for confession magazines.
Andrews eventually completed a 290,000-word novel, The Obsessed. Retitling the work Flowers in the Attic, she shortened it to ninety-eight pages but was again told to revise it. As Andrews later recalled, she added "all those unspeakable things my mother didn't want me to write about." She sold the new version for $7,500 to Pocket Books, a division of Simon and Schuster. Published in 1979, Flowers in the Attic was the first of the Dollanganger trilogy.
Many critics dismissed Andrews's novel, but it was an immediate success, prompting the release of a sequel, Petals on the Wind (1980), in which the children escaped and exacted their revenge. The final installment, If There Be Thorns, appeared the following year with an initial printing of 2.5 million copies. Andrews followed her first successes with My Sweet Audrina (1982), Seeds of Yesterday (1984), Heaven (1985), and Dark Angel (1986). Together, the seven novels sold more than thirty million copies and consistently reached best-seller lists.
On December 19, 1986, Andrews died of breast cancer in Virginia Beach. She was buried in Olive Branch Cemetery, in Portsmouth. A movie adaptation of her first novel was completed in 1987. Before her death Andrews had reportedly completed synopses for another sixty-three story lines and several more novels. Four Andrews novels published posthumously may have been completed by Andrew Niederman, who also wrote many additional novels under her name.
June 6, 1923 - Virginia Cleo Andrews is born in Portsmouth.
1979 - Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews is published, turning the unknown writer into a best-selling author.
December 19, 1986 - V. C. Andrews dies of breast cancer in Virginia Beach.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Campbell, E. D. C., Jr., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. V. C. Andrews (1923–1986). (2013, July 8). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Andrews_V_C_1923-1986.
- MLA Citation:
Campbell, Edward D. C., Jr. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "V. C. Andrews (1923–1986)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 8 Jul. 2013. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: April 8, 2009 | Last modified: July 8, 2013
Contributed by Edward D. C. Campbell Jr. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography.