Kurt's Historic Sites

V.C. Andrews

V.C. Andrews

Interment Location Visited  
Portsmouth, VA June 8, 2024  

Photographed June 8, 2024.

Returning from the 2024 Virginia Cemetery Association conference in Virginia Beach, I stopped in Portsmouth to visit the grave of Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Clarence “Ace” Parker. The GPS coordinates on Parker’s Find a Grave memorial were inaccurate, but they led me into the vicinity of a robust monument a section over. Said monument marks the final resting place of a woman who has written from beyond the grave (so to speak). The author of seven hit novels popular with young adults, Virginia “V.C.” Andrews died in 1986. Literal ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman was initially hired to build upon the scraps of two additional book ideas Andrews left behind. In the ensuing decades, he wrote scores of publications under her name. As of early 2014, Neiderman’s catalogue of V.C. Andrews-credited novels sat at 68.

Beneath the inscription of Andrews’s surname is an inkwell flanked by two quills, with the pens positioned reminiscent of angel wings. An open book atop the author’s monument lists her best-selling novels: Flowers in the Attic (1979); Petals on the Wind (1980); If There Be Thorns (1981); My Sweet Audrina (1982); Seeds of Yesterday (1984); Heaven (1985); and Dark Angel (1986), which is carved as “Dark Angels” on her stone. While working on Heaven, and Dark Angel, Andrews ignored a lump on one of her breasts, determined that nothing would interfere with her workflow. The anomaly turned out to be cancer and eventually spread to other parts of Andrews’s body. Her brother Bill “even went to the Edgar Cayce Institute there in Virginia Beach and researched what could be done holistically, she so wanted to keep her strength up to continue writing,” sister-in-law Joan Andrews revealed in 2014. Cancer cost the writer her life in December 1986 at 63 years of age.

Photographed June 8, 2024.
Photographed June 8, 2024.

In profound pain and immobile without a wheelchair since adolescence, Andrews was cared for by her mother, Lillian. She used her creative talents for commercial artwork for local businesses and then turned to writing. In January 1978 at age 54, she wrote to literary agent Anita Diamant, who soon took Andrews on as a client. Her letter to Diamant explained, “Using a pen name, I have written and sold without an agent, three Gothic Romances. Before that, I wrote confession stories, just to finance my more serious efforts. All the while I was writing other tales… one kept bearing hard on my mind, begging to be told.” That tale was the popular and polarizing Flowers in the Attic, summarized by The Guardian in 2019 as a “gothic tale of incest, poisoning and dark family secrets” which by that point had sold 40 million copies. A message from Andrews is chiseled into the back of her gravestone. Toward the end it says, “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 for myself.”

Fast Facts

Born: June 6, 1923 in Portsmouth, Virginia

Died: December 19, 1986 in Virginia Beach, Virginia

Cause of Death: Breast Cancer

Age: 63

Interment: Olive Branch Cemetery, Portsmouth, Virginia

"In the beginning, her books were difficult to place on store shelves: horror, terror, YA, romance sagas? The truth is V.C. Andrews became a genre onto herself. In her style, young people suffered adult problems, but the heavy accent on familial ones predominated. The weaving of a desperate need for love amid sibling rivalry and unusual parental relationships, tightly tied to family secrets, and elaborate influential settings struck a note with young people regardless of nationality or race. There is no greater tie an author can have to their readers than the thought, I once felt like that or I feel like that, but secretly."
- Andrew Neiderman
2023, in a Publishers Weekly article

Sources Consulted and Further Reading

Aurthur, Kate. “The Ghost Of V.C. Andrews: The Life, Death, And Afterlife Of The Mysterious ‘Flowers In The Attic’ Author.” BuzzFeed. January 15, 2014. https://www.buzzfeed.com/kateaurthur/the-ghost-of-vc-andrews-the-life-death-and-afterlife-of-the.

Flood, Alison. “‘Awful and fabulous’: the madness of Flowers in the Attic.” The Guardian. November 14, 2009. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/nov/14/flowers-in-the-attic-vc-andrews-40-years.

Neiderman, Andrew. “Becoming V.C. Andrews.” Publishers Weekly. July 7, 2023. https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/columns-and-blogs/soapbox/article/92711-becoming-v-c-andrews.html.

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