Today marks the death of one of the world’s most beloved authors. V.C Andrews, born Cleo Virginia Andrews was born in Portsmouth ,Virginia and died at the age of 63 from breast cancer. If you were an avid reader growing up in my era, you were all too familiar with her work, and all too consumed with the lives of the Dollanganger family. At the time, it was both a shocking book due to the romantic incestual love between Cathy and Chris, but it was also a fascinating new tale that introduced me to all things gothic and dark. I mean really, really dark; and in this manner, V.C. Andrews was way ahead of her time.
There was never a lack of desperation and angst, hopelessness and fear, associated with her books. I still hate the grandmother to this day and I hate the mother even more for choosing wealth over her children. I adored the twins and I was absolutely devastated when they were being poisoned, ultimately killing Cory. There was so much packed into this book that I devoured it with fervor, and then quickly moved forward to Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, Garden of Shadows and then on to My Sweet Audrina. My face, always grounded in a book when I was younger, was even more so when I was reading a V.C Andrews novel. Such was the case, I’m sure, with many of her loyal and beloved fans worldwide.
Some people got this book and some didn’t. For some it was too warped, too dark, and just plain too depressing. But for those of you who did get V.C. Andrews, I write this post for you. So today is rather a melancholy day, but it is also one where we can celebrate ,who I believe to be, one of the world’s most legendary authors.
Chiseled on the stone at her grave site it reads:
“Books opened doors I hadn’t even realized were there. They took me up and out of myself, back into the past, forward into the future, put me on the moon, placed me in palaces, in jungles, everywhere. When finally I did reach London and Paris — I’d been there before. When books fail to give me what I need, dreams supply the rest. A long time ago I dreamed I was rich and famous — and I saw flowers growing in the attic. Dreams can come true no matter what obstacles fate chooses to place as obstacles to hurdle, crawl under, or go around. Somehow I always manage to reach the far side.
What else can I say? To have a goal and achieve it, despite everything, is my only accomplishment. If I give a few million readers pleasure and escape along the way I do the same thing for myself.”
So, if there was one thing that I took from Flowers in the Attic it was the thought that no matter how dire and how ugly life can become, you have the power to make something beautiful out of it. Even if the flowers aren’t real and made only of paper.
Tune in to Lifetime on Saturday, January 18th to watch the World Premier of Flowers in the Attic and take a gander at the trailer below for it.
Win a review copy of the new mass market paperback tie-in for V.C. Andrews enduring classic Flowers in the Attic by clicking below!
About the Author (from Goodreads):
Virginia Cleo Andrews (born Cleo Virginia Andrews) was born June 6, 1923 in Portsmouth, Virginia. The youngest child and the only daughter of William Henry Andrews, a career navy man who opened a tool-and-die business after retirement, and Lillian Lilnora Parker Andrews, a telephone operator. She spent her happy childhood years in Portsmouth, Virginia, living briefly in Rochester, New York. The Andrews family returned to Portsmouth while Virginia was in high school.
While a teenager, Virginia suffered a tragic accident, falling down the stairs at her school and incurred severe back injuries. Arthritis and a failed spinal surgical procedure forced her to spend most of her life on crutches or in a wheelchair.
Virginia excelled in school and, at fifteen, won a scholarship for writing a parody of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. She proudly earned her diploma from Woodrow Wilson High School in Portsmouth. After graduation, she nurtured her artistic talent by completing a four-year correspondence art course while living at home with her family.
After William Andrews died in the late 1960’s, Virginia helped to support herself and her mother through her extremely successful career as a commercial artist, portrait painter, and fashion illustrator.
Frustrated with the lack of creative satisfaction that her work provided, Virginia sought creative release through writing, which she did in secret. In 1972, she completed her first novel, The Gods of the Green Mountain [sic], a science-fantasy story. It was never published. Between 1972 and 1979, she wrote nine novels and twenty short stories, of which only one was published. “I Slept with My Uncle on My Wedding Night”, a short fiction piece, was published in a pulp confession magazine.
Promise gleamed over the horizon for Virginia when she submitted a 290,000-word novel, The Obsessed, to a publishing company. She was told that the story had potential, but needed to be trimmed and spiced up a bit. She drafted a new outline in a single night and added “unspeakable things my mother didn’t want me to write about.” The ninety-eight-page revision was re-titled Flowers in the Attic and she was paid a $7,500 advance. Her new-generation Gothic novel reached the best-seller lists a mere two weeks after its 1979 paperback publication by Pocket Books.
Petals on the Wind, her sequel to Flowers, was published the next year, earning Virginia a $35,000 advance. The second book remained on the New York Times best-seller list for an unbelievable nineteen weeks (Flowers also returned to the list). These first two novels alone sold over seven million copies in only two years. The third novel of the Dollanganger series, If There Be Thorns, was released in 1981, bringing Virginia a $75,000 advance. It reached No. 2 on many best-seller lists within its first two weeks.
Taking a break from the chronicles of Chris and Cathy Dollanganger, Virginia published her one, and only, stand-alone novel, My Sweet Audrina, in 1982. The book welcomed an immediate success, topping the sales figures of her previous novels. Two years later, a fourth Dollanganger novel was released, Seeds of Yesterday. According to the New York Times, Seeds was the best-selling fiction paperback novel of 1984. Also in 1984, V.C. Andrews was named “Professional Woman of the Year” by the city of Norfolk, Virginia.
Upon Andrews’s death in 1986, two final novels–Garden of Shadows and Fallen Hearts–were published. These two novels are considered the last to bear the “V.C. Andrews” name and to be almost completely written by Andrews herself.
Her novels were so successful that after her death her estate hired a ghost writer Andrew Neiderman, to write more stories to be published under her name.
I am 44 and remember when I was in high school in the ’80’s. The Flowers In The Attic books were kind of taboo and exciting. All the girls were reading them and sharing with each other. They were terrific! I didn’t know about her sad life:(
Yes, I never really looked much into her private life as well and hadn’t looked that closely into it until now. She was one of the many authors in my youth that started my reading journey.