Born on June 6, 1923 in Portsmouth, Virginia, Cleo Virginia Andrews lived a secluded but successful life. Better known as V. C. Andrews or Virginia, she combined gothic horror and family saga elements to create novels with themes of forbidden love and secrecy. V.C. Andrews incorporated many elements from her personal life into her writing. Andrews' parents were William Henry Andrews and Lillian Lilnora Parker Andrews. In her novels, Andrews incorporated characters named Lillian and William, married to each other in the final book of the Cutler series.
When she was a teenager, Andrews fell from a stairwell at school and she sustained severe back injuries. This led to arthritis that made the use of a wheelchair a necessity. Elements of this part of Andrews' life can be seen in the novels Rain – in which a teenage girl is confined to a wheelchair after a fall from a horse – and Ruby – in which a teenager is crippled in a car accident.
Andrews was a talented artist and painted portraits and fashion illustrations. She created characters, such as Ruby, who enjoyed painting landscapes and portraits.
At first, Andrews wrote in secret and destroyed her first piece of writing because she felt it was too autobiographical. Her first novel was called Gods of Green Mountain, but it was not published until 2004, as an e-book. She completed the draft of her first published novel in 1975 – first called The Obsessed, later Flowers in the Attic.
V. C. Andrews died on December 19, 1986 of breast cancer. She was 63 years old. More novels have since been written in her name by ghost writer Andrew Neiderman. The last books genuinely written by Andrews alone were Garden of Shadows and Fallen Hearts, both published in 1986. She was buried in Olive Branch Cemetery in Portsmouth.