Along with her novels , V C Andrews herself has been the subject of intrigue for her millions of fans worldwide since the publication of Flowers in the Attic in 1979.
Notoriously private, yet , contrastingly releasing a novel she claimed to be based on a true story. Rumours have circulated regarding her for over three decades and still little fact is known about her …..
A fantastic fan theory on MySpace states :
” Some say VC Andrews is the nom de plume of a man. Some believe her books were autobiographical rather than fictional. Stories painted her as a former ballerina, crippled in an accident, living and writing in a dark world of madness. Some say she never existed at all and has been ghostwritten by a team of writers since before her purported death. “
Intriguing concepts seemingly fuelled by contrasting information given in her biographies by her own estate and publishing firm, Simon and Schuster.
Different variations of her name , given as Virginia Cleo and then Cleo Virginia and the surprising lack of information on the US SS database which tallied with the information her biography provided.
And then the intriguing record found by a keen fan of the death of a Virginia Andrews in 1979.
Of course , whispers increased amongst fans when her publishers websites removed personal family photos , artwork and more importantly a passport which had been available to fans a decade ago.
Why ? A huge cover up perhaps ? or just a marketing ploy which lets face it , has proved successful for thirty years ?
The lack of confirmation and a lack of exhausive biography make it hard to tell. … until now ……
Lorraine Elgar , of AtticSecrets, delves into the world of the mysterious Ms Andrews using historical records and aims to uncover the truths once and for all :
As Neisha Chetty says
” You know Virginia Andrews theories are so fascinating, I mean no other woman was so well hidden and yet so popular”
To be honest , it all seems a little fishy and id love to uncover some dark, twisted tale worthy of the great woman.
My own personal theory , which as silly as it sounds im happy to share, was
Virginia was Cathy Dollanganger, the raw intensity of her emotions written down couldn’t of possibly been written by someone who hadnt experienced that first hand I rationalised to myself, the dedication s , the true story claim plus the interesting points of how Virginia s life paralleled with Cathy s itself.
The age gap between Virginia and her siblings is the same as that of the Dollanganger children (which in turn spawned another theory there was a twin child that could have died .)
The journey itself to Virginia , aged 12 , to live near her maternal grandparents.
Her maternal grandfather who even Virginia admitted was “heavily into religion ” and “seemed to control her mother”. Plus the death of her father in 1957 , the year FITA begins.
Of course , as great as that theory is to me , it certainly isnt true – there is literally no evidence to suggest this and when researching a person – evidence is everything….
So what evidence did I find ? Are any of the theories and rumours true ?
Here I share exactly what I have found out about the mysterious Ms Andrews …. you may just be surprised at what ive found 😉
The most comprehensive biography of VCA of course is found on The Complete VCA website and from there I start my search …..
According to this Virginia was born Cleo Virginia Andrews on 6th June 1923 *(sorry folks C stands for Cleo not Catherine )* to William Henry Andrews and Lilian Leonora Parker in Norfolk, Virginia.
Inputting this data into Ancestry.com brings up the following matches in the 1930 and 1940 Census.
Lets look at the 1930 census first ”
From the transcript , we can confirm Virginia as she is known here was born circa 1924 ( censuses were taken in the April of each year and would put the age of the citizen rather than year of birth) , Her address was Jay Street in Rochester, New York and that she was in school.
The transcript of household members alone tells us her parents names , ages and her siblings names and ages – William Henry Andrews and Eugene Andrews *( It also puts paid to my twin theory 😉 )*
Then , there is the document itself which gives so much extra information to fill in the details and build a bigger picture …..neighbours names , her father s occupation as a tool maker along with the fact he was born in New York.
Now onto the 1940 Census
Note how here she is listed as C Virginia Andrews ? Again her birth year is slightly out due to the census being taken before her birthday in June …. we can gauge from this info the family are now residing in Atlanta Avenue , ,Portsmouth, Virginia and have made the move from New York sometime in the past six years.
The continuation of the transcript shows the highest grade completed was high school third year which means she would have been 14/15 when she left – this could confirm the stories of the tragic accident that left her paralysed and made her leave school before graduating. Certainly she never graduated high school , as she is in no year books belonging to Woodrow Wilson High School of which there are many to search online.
So , research so far confirms certain facts as provided in the biographies- indeed there is a Virginia Andrews sometimes known as C Virginia Andrews in the record s. They even confirm her family and the family s residences in New York and Virginia. They give a rough birth year which tallies with her given birth month and year. They hint at confirmation of her accident. … but still nothing completely solid apart from her name , family and location.
The 1950 Census and onwards are not yet available so no more information can be gained from these as sources at this present time.
Onto searches of birth and death entries …… and this is where I believe the rumours started. The given date for Virginia s death is 19th December 1986 yet records were proving elusive to find.
Until August 19th 2015 , my own searches would bring up nothing. I would trawl thousands of records available including the US SS index with no luck ….curiouser and curiouser.
Over 1,300 records of people with the surname andrews who died in 1986 later expanded to between 1984 -1988 in Norfolk, Virginia then expanded to America as a whole and nothing ……..
Apart from the one V C Andrews with the same birthdate but who had died in 1979 …… Were the rumours true ? Had Virginia been ghostwritten before ?
Actually , No , this Virginia though intriguing proved to be a red herring
So , Where was she ?
A death search would bring up Find a grave.com which gave her death date and burial site in Oak Grove Cemetery.
Pictures of a great ornate grave more akin to a monument reminiscent of Audrina s grave in the book.
Which of course , sent my head spinning into a kaleidoscopic prism of fractured conversation s and theories –
What if ?! What if their were hints in her published works ?!
What if Cathys unproductive search for records of Corys death and Audrina s fake grave are placed there as subliminal messages ?!
Absolutely mind boggling … but of course no proof .
Then, after literally three years of research , on August 19th 2015 , I noticed the Virginian archives indexes had been transcribed and added to ancestry…that morning I had been dejectedly trawling through the US SS database with little luck but thinking its worth another shot and heres what came up …… Records from Virginia had been uploaded onto ancestry and I had found her !
BINGO ! actual evidence to confirm her birth date and death date…. evidence which dispels a lot of rumours , evidence which proves her biography is correct as given to fans , evidence that she was very real and did exist .
Of course , this isnt the end of the mysteries that surround Virginia , there are plenty more to delve into – Fita for one thing is a mystery in itself , her doctor whose story it was based on , her missing works ….. plenty for fans to sink their teeth into, but for now a bit part of the mystery of her is solved .