Born on June 6, 1924 in Portsmouth, Va., Virginia Cleo Andrews was one of three children of William Henry and Lillian Lilnora. Her father was a career Navy man who later opened a tool-and-die business and her mother was a telephone operator. As a child, Andrews read voraciously and also excelled in art. At the age of fifteen, she won a scholarship for a literary parody she had written. Commenting on her love of reading, she once said "When I was seven, [my father] took me to the public library and signed me up for my first library card. He went home with two books... I went home with nine." Andrews worked as a commercial fashion and portrait artist for a time. However, after her father's death in the late 1960s and the family's subsequent move to Manchester, Mo, she began what she described as "closet" writing. It was her publisher's decision to use her initials (V.C.) rather than her full name. This was done for the purpose of neutralizing her gender so as to sell to adult male audiences; the common belief was that men did not like to read books by women writers. Andrews eventually became a full-time writer. Her first novel was a science fiction fantasy entitled The Gods of the Green Mountains, published in 1972. In 1980, she published the bestseller Flowers in the Attic, followed by Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, My Sweet Audrina, Heaven, and Dark Angel. V.C. Andrews died in December, 1986 at the age of 62. She left a legacy of books that have been sold worldwide and translated into 13 foreign languages.