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When you're ready to treat me with love, I'll be back.
~ Corrine as she imprisons her children in the attic.

Corrine Dollanganger is one of the main characters of the Dollanganger series and the main antagonist of the novel Flowers in The Attic, as well as it's 1987 film. She is also the main antagonist of the sequel book Petals On The Wind.

She was portrayed by Victoria Tennant - who also portrayed Aunt Lydia in the film adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale - in the 1987 film adaptation.


Flowers In The Attic

In the year 1957, Cathy Dollanganger is twelve years old and the second of four children (including her older brother, Chris, who is fourteen years old, and fraternal twins, Carrie and Cory, who are five). They live in Gladstone, Pennsylvania with their parents, Christopher and Corrine. Their father works at a PR firm while their mother stays home to care for them. Their idyllic lifestyle ends when their father dies in a car accident on his 36th birthday.

In need of financial support, Corrine takes her children to live with her wealthy, but religious mother, Olivia Foxworth. Olivia and Corrine sneak the children into the attic to stay, with Corrine stating that her terminally ill father, Malcolm, will not give her his inheritance if he knows she has children. The reasoning being that Malcolm disapproved of Corrine's marriage because her husband was his half-brother, meaning her marriage was incestuous- she married her half-uncle, to the anger of Olivia and Malcolm. This is also the reason of Olivia's contempt for the children; she believes they are the spawn of Satan due to being the products of an incestuous relationship.

Corrine assures Chris that they will be able to leave the attic once her father dies. Her children believe her for the first few months of their captivity and believe Corrine to be another victim of Olivia's abuse. However, Corrine reveals herself to be just as monstrous as her mother when she goes back on her word, and leaves the children to be abused by Olivia, even past her father's death, which she does not tell her children about. Olivia tortures the children via starvation and whippings, and on one occasion puts tar in Cathy's hair to force her to cut it.

Corrine decides to keep the money for herself and attempts to dispose of the children by feeding them donuts laced with arsenic, resulting in Cory being fatally poisoned. She tells the surviving children that he died of pneumonia and had a funeral, despite the fact that she actually hid his body in a box in the house.  She marries her family lawyer Bart Winslow for his money and elopes from Foxworth Hall with him, leaving the children to finally escape from Olivia on their own accord.

Cathy does declare that one day, she will get her vengeance. At the time of their escape, in November 1960, Chris is nearly 18 years old, Cathy is 15 years old, and Carrie is 8 years old.

Petals On The Wind

Chris and Cathy do not report their mother to the police out of fear of Carrie's safety, whose growth was stunted as a result of the severe malnutrition and arsenic poisoning her mother and grandmother subjected her to. The children enter a foster family, but Cathy swears revenge on her mother. Corrine returns to Foxworth Hall with Bart Winslow and assumes control from her bedridden mother, who she emotionally abuses regularly, indicating a switch in dominance between Corrine and Olivia. In 1972, she begins renovating Foxworth Hall, and is confronted by Carrie who asks for her marriage approval, having been haunted by her abuse, and Olivia referring to her as the Devil's spawn. Corrine coldly rejects her to her face, saying she doesn't have a daughter. Carrie dejectedly commits suicide following this by eating an arsenic-laced donut, similarly to her brother.

Carrie's death causes Cathy to launch a vendetta against Corrine. Cathy seduces Bart and gets pregnant by him, before revealing herself and the affair to Corrine during Corrine's annual Christmas ball in front of her guests. Bart takes Corrine and Cathy to the library where Olivia is sitting, wheelchair bound. Olivia berates Corrine for her ungodly choices and for being a disgrace to her family. The stress from the entire night causes Corrine to suffer a mental breakdown and confuse Chris, who had just arrived, to be her late husband's spirit. During her delusions, Corrine sets fire to Foxworth Hall. Cathy, Chris, and Corrine escape, but Bart and Olivia are consumed by the flames and are killed.

Corrine was found unfit to stand trial for her crimes and taken to a psychiatric facility. It was initially assumed that Corrine was faking mental illness to avoid prosecution for the murders, but it was revealed that she actually had become psychotic, as she is last seen in a straitjacket babbling hysterically about her children in the attic.

If There Be Thorns

Main article: Corrine Foxworth


  • In the 2014 remake version (which includes the semi-canon sequel If There Be Thorns), the alternate version of Corrine redeems herself by saving her daughter from a house fire, at the cost of her own life, and is therefore not a purely evil character.
  • The book was banned from a number of US school districts due to the implication that Corrine was attracted to her son Chris because of his resemblance to her deceased husband/half-uncle.


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