Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Possible Influence? The Works of Margery Lawrence

While working on the next entry for this blog, I came across this quote: "he forced upon me what should only be given in love."  This line regards Julian raping Cathy in the upcoming section and is--I thought--a classic example of Andrews' strangely coy descriptions of all things sexual.

Except I took a closer look, and it isn't.    

In fact, this line is a direct quote from a 1930 novel,  The Madonna of Seven Moons, by Margery Lawrence.  The only difference between Madonna and Petals is that the Madonna quote is in third person, while Petals is of course in first person.  Criterion describes the film adaptation of Madonna of Seven Moons as a "lurid tale of sex and psychosis" about a woman who was raped by gypsies.

The little I found on a quick research of Margery Lawrence is that she was a writer of occult mysteries in the 1940s.  She was very much into spiritualism and published a couple of books on the subject; she prefaced some of her (obviously fictional) Gothic works with a disclaimer stating that they were true stories with the names changed for privacy.  Cambridge University's Orlando index, which catalogs the works of female British authors, describes her work thusly:  Female sexuality looms large in her work and she often places female characters in impossible predicaments, often involving social convention, money, or class.

It's too little info to make a connection to Andrews, but I did find it interesting that the most outstanding conventions of this woman's work sound like things that could be said of Our Gal Ginny.  It sounds as if Lawrence could have very well be an influence on Andrews, and the direct quote strongly implies that Andrews read The Madonna of Seven Moons

I feel it necessary to point out that I do not imply Andrews may have plagiarized this other author.  One lifted line does not a plagiarist make.  Writers brains are like flypaper for unique phrases, which tend to get regurgitated without our realizing it.  Recently in my own fiction, I had to go back and edit the opening of a scene when I realized it too closely resembled the opening of a similar scene in a published novel.  I'm sure that if I had to bear down to catch a whole three paragraphs, a line or two here and there has probably slipped under my radar.  That's how we writers roll.

Margery Lawrence's works are sadly out-of-print, and the few copies available are antiques far out of my price range.  She seems to be well-known enough to have a Wikipedia article, but obscure enough that I can't find any scholarly papers on her work--and believe me, us desperate English majors will dig up writers you've never heard of in order to stand out in our field.  I do not have quite enough time to do any in-depth research investigating other potential links between the two authors. But if there's a thesis anywhere in this, I call dibs.


  1. Oooh, interesting! I never heard of her before, but now I'm going to do some digging. If I find anything, I'll let you know.

  2. It took me a bit to catch up but I'm glad you're posting again :D

  3. Thank you for this! I will look out for this author when I peruse old bookstores. I'm always interested in what made V.C. Andrews tick. I'm so glad you didn't die! I was seriously getting really sad. One, that you might have actually died, and two for myself because I finally found someone who thinks about this as much as I do! I also have the Critical Companion to V.C. Andrews. I haven't finished it yet because I'm still re-reading My Sweet Audrina and would like to be surprised at the details I forgot. It's so much more fun to read with someone recapping so I have someone to laugh with! It's really interesting how much she took from gothic novels. I was also the anonymous post that discussed Gillian Hills and Demons of the Mind. I was re-reading your first blogs and forgot that you mentioned Mommie Dearest as coming out a few years before. This is interesting, because I was watching that movie just recently on Netflix(Which by the way was one of my favorite movies as a kid. Surprise, surprise!) and it got me interested in the real story. So I got on Youtube and found the real Christina Crawford~

    Man does she remind me of Petals on the Wind Cathy! And she's so blond as is her brother Christopher(!) and they have twin siblings. And they are all named after the letter C!!!!! And when I think about it Joan Crawford in the movie was like Corinne and the Grandmother rolled into one! The story has so much in common with Flowers, especially the money and being locked up and the abuse it's crazy! I have to wonder if Virginia saw this interview and used it for this series. If you look at the video at 7:35 Joan Crawford would have made a bad ass Grandmother!

    1. great find.. according to wikipedia, one of the twins' names was: CATHY (!!)

    2. I just read this other FITA analysis that mentioned the Mommie Dearest comparisons. The part about them being dolls is such a Twilight Zoney cool idea! Especially when you realize that this is pretty much VC Andrews' psyche anyway!

  4. just wanted to leave a comment and say that i am obsessed with you since i found this blog a couple days ago.. you are amazing and i can't wait for your next post!

    fyi, flowers on the attic (the movie) was on encore in february and it made me want to re-read the series. after i was done, i did a little googling and somehow came upon this blog =D