V. C. Andrews
|Born||Cleo Virginia Andrews|
June 6, 1923
Portsmouth, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||December 19, 1986 (aged 63)|
Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S.
Cleo Virginia Andrews (June 6, 1923 – December 19, 1986), better known as V. C. Andrews or Virginia C. Andrews, was an American novelist.
Andrews's novels combine Gothic horror and family saga, revolving around family secrets and forbidden love (frequently involving themes of horrific events, and sometimes include a rags-to-riches story). Her best-known novel is the bestseller Flowers in the Attic (1979), a tale of four children smuggled into the attic of their wealthy estranged pious grandmother, and held prisoner there by their mother.
Her novels were successful enough that following Andrews's death, her estate hired a ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, to continue to write novels to be published under her name. In assessing a deficiency in her estate tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service argued (successfully) that Virginia Andrews's name was a valuable commercial asset, the value of which should be included in her gross estate.
Her novels have been translated into Czech, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Greek, Finnish, Hungarian, Swedish, Polish, Portuguese, Lithuanian, Chinese, Russian and Hebrew.
Andrews was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, the youngest child and only daughter of Lillian Lilnora (Parker), a telephone operator, and William Henry Andrews, a tool-and-die maker. She had two older brothers, William Jr. and Eugene. Andrews grew up attending Southern Baptist and Methodist churches. As a teenager, Andrews suffered a fall from a school stairwell, resulting in severe back injuries. The subsequent surgery to correct these injuries resulted in Andrews' suffering from crippling arthritis that required her to use crutches and a wheelchair for much of her life. However, having always shown promise as an artist, she was able to complete a four-year correspondence course from her home and soon became a successful commercial artist, illustrator, and portrait painter, using her art commissions to support the family after her father's death in 1957.
Later in life, Andrews turned to writing. Her first novel, titled Gods of Green Mountain, was a science fiction effort that remained unpublished during her lifetime but was released as an e-book in 2004. In 1975, Andrews completed a manuscript for a novel she called Flowers in the Attic. "I wrote it in two weeks," Andrews said. The novel was returned with the suggestion that she "spice up" and expand the story. In later interviews, Andrews claims to have made the necessary revisions in a single night. The novel, published in 1979, was an instant popular success, reaching the top of the bestseller lists in only two weeks. Every year thereafter until her death, Andrews published a new novel, each publication earning Andrews larger advances and a growing popular readership.
"I think I tell a whopping good story. And I don't drift away from it a great deal into descriptive material," she stated in Faces of Fear in 1985. "When I read, if a book doesn't hold my interest in what's going to happen next, I put it down and don't finish it. So I'm not going to let anybody put one of my books down and not finish it. My stuff is a very fast read." In an interview for Twilight Magazine in 1983, Andrews was questioned about the critics' response to her work. She answered, "I don't care what the critics say. I used to, until I found out that most critics are would-be writers who are just jealous because I'm getting published and they aren't. I also don't think that anybody cares about what they say. Nor should they care."
Andrews died of breast cancer on December 19, 1986, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. After her death, her family hired a ghostwriter, Andrew Neiderman, to finish the manuscripts she had started. He would complete the next two novels, Garden of Shadows and Fallen Hearts, and they were published soon after. These two novels are considered the last to bear the "V.C. Andrews" name and to be almost completely written by Andrews herself.
Andrews' first series of novels was published between 1979 and 1986.
Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind focus on the four Dollanganger siblings and the events that shattered their perfect life after a car accident kills their father and their eventual imprisonment in their grandparent’s attic as their mother tries to win back the love of her dying estranged father who must not know of the existence of her four children. Flowers in the Attic tells of their incarceration, the death of one child, and subsequent escape of the other three, with Petals on the Wind picking up directly after telling the story of life outside the attic walls and Cathy's eventual revenge on the mother that locked them away. The story then continues in If There Be Thorns, which follows Cathy's sons, Jory and Bart, and the mysterious new neighbor who befriends Bart, gradually turning him against his parents; to the eventual reconstruction of Foxworth Hall in Seeds of Yesterday (which had previously burnt down in Petals). Garden of Shadows, a prequel, tells the grandparents' story and how the children's parents became involved with each other, leading to the events of the first novel.
Initially a stand-alone novel published during Andrews' lifetime, the story takes place in the Mid-Atlantic United States during the 1960s and 1970s. The story features diverse subjects, such as brittle bone disease, rape, posttraumatic stress disorder, and diabetes, in the haunting setting of a Victorian-era mansion near the fictitious River Lyle. A sequel was published 34 years later to tie in with the Lifetime adaption of My Sweet Audrina by Andrew Neiderman.
Published between 1985 and 1990, the five novels of the Casteel series make up the last series started by Andrews before her death. This series traces the lives of a troubled West Virginia family, originally from the viewpoint of Heaven, a young impoverished girl whose mother died during childbirth and who has a love/hate relationship with her alcoholic father who eventually sells Heaven and her siblings to make some money. Eventually Heaven leaves to go live with her maternal grandfather at Farthinggale Manor where she discovers the secrets of her mother and who her actual father is. Later novels focus on Heaven's daughter, Annie, with the fifth and final novel centering on Leigh, Heaven's mother.
This series, the first written entirely by Neiderman, covers nearly 80 years of the history of the Cutler family. The first three books, Dawn, Secrets of the Morning, and Twilight's Child, follow the character of Dawn from her childhood to her marriage and subsequent return to the Cutler mansion. Midnight Whispers focuses on Dawn's daughter Christie. Darkest Hour, the last book in the series, goes back in time to focus on Dawn's step-grandmother, Lillian.
This series of novels focuses on the Landry family; Ruby Landry, her daughter Pearl, and Ruby's mother Gabrielle (referred to as Gabriel in Tarnished Gold). The novels, set in the Louisiana bayou, were published between 1994 and 1996.
The series follows Melody Logan from a West Virginia trailer park to Cape Cod as she helps her relatives deal with the problems they'd rather bury. Melody stars as the main character in Melody, Heart Song, and Unfinished Symphony. The fourth book, Music in the Night, tells the tale of Melody's cousin, Laura, who died before the events of the first book. The fifth book, Olivia, serves as a prequel, with the main character being Melody's great-aunt Olivia.
The Orphans series focuses on the lives of four teenage orphans, Janet (Butterfly), Crystal, Brooke, and Raven, who are sent to the Lakewood House foster home and their subsequent escape in the full-length conclusion, Runaways. Each of the first four mini-books focuses on the events that led each girl to the Lakewood House foster home. Released over the summer of 1998, The Orphans Series marked the first mini-series written under the Andrews name and the first departure from the usual series structure of the previous five series. An omnibus edition of the first four novels was released in 2000 and the original mini-books were subsequently taken out of print.
The Wildflowers series is about a group of girls in court-ordered group therapy and why they were ordered to attend. The first four mini-books serve as prequels to the therapy sessions while the last one deals with what happened after. An omnibus edition was released in 2001 containing the four mini-books.
The Hudson series tells the story of Rain Arnold Hudson, a child conceived in an interracial affair between a black man and a wealthy white woman. Her story is told in Rain, Lightning Strikes, and Eye of the Storm. The fourth book, The End of the Rainbow, is the story of her daughter Summer. The series had ended with only four books until a prequel, titled Gathering Clouds, was announced. The book was released alongside the movie adaptation of Rain and revealed the story of Rain's birth mother.
The Shooting Stars series tells the stories of four girls, each with a different background, upbringing, and talent. The first four books each focus on one of the girls: Cinnamon, an actress who deals with her domineering grandmother; Ice, a vocalist whose mother wishes she'd never had a daughter; Rose, a dancer who deals with the ramifications of her father's suicide; and Honey, a violinist whose grandfather sees sin in everything. The final book is Falling Stars, told from Honey's point of view, in which the four girls meet at the Senetsky School for the Arts in New York, where they try to uncover the secrets of their instructor, Madame Senetsky.
The De Beers family series tells the story of Willow De Beers, who learns from her father's diary that her real mother had been a patient of her father's. The first two books, Willow and Wicked Forest cover her meeting with her mother and half-brother in Palm Beach, Florida, her marriage which ends on a sour note, and the birth of her daughter Hannah, who is the main character in Twisted Roots. Into the Woods is the first prequel to the series about Grace, Willow's mother, and what led to her being admitted to the hospital. Hidden Leaves and Dark Seed are both told from the perspective of Willow's father, Claude, and tell how he met Grace and how Willow was born. Some novels in the De Beers series feature letters from characters from other V.C. Andrews novels, such as Ruby Landry and Annie Stonewall.
The Broken Wings series follows three juvenile delinquents, Robin Taylor, Teal Sommers, and Phoebe Elder, who each act out for various reasons. They are sent to Dr. Foreman's School for Girls, run by the abusive Dr. Foreman, in an isolated part of the Southwest.
The Gemini series follows Celeste, a young girl who is forced to take on the identity of her dead twin brother Noble by her New Age fanatic mother. Celeste's story is followed in Celeste and Black Cat. The third book, Child of Darkness, is about Celeste's daughter Baby Celeste.
The Shadows series is about a teenage girl named April Taylor, who is short, fat, not overly talented, nor popular. The first book focuses on April's relationship with her athletic older sister Brenda and the deaths of their parents. The second book focuses on April's adventures after moving in with a foster family in California.
The only novel from "The V. C. Andrews Trust" (through which Neiderman wrote the novels that followed Andrews's death) to feature a little girl throughout the book. Jordan March, unlike every other V.C. Andrews main character (all of whom are 12 or 16 years old), starts out at age 6, then turns 7. This little girl is developing too fast.
The series follows the story of two small-town girls, a murder, and the attic they use and develop into something very special. According to Neiderman, both books in the series were "slightly inspired by a true story".
The Delia series revolves around a young Latina girl (Delia), whose parents died in a truck accident in Mexico, and how she must cope with fitting into her aunt's wealthy and sometimes cruel Mexican-American family.
This is a spin-off series from Bittersweet Dreams published in e-book form.
Set before the events of the Dollanganger series, the Attic series follows the first Corrine and her marriage to Garland Foxworth.
As of March 2022, Lifetime has aired 14 adaptations of V. C. Andrews' work.
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