Sheila Ann Mary Coates was born on 1937 in Essex, England, just before the Second World War in the East End of London. As a child, she was moved from relative to relative to escape the bombings of World War II. Sheila attended the Ursuline Convent for Girls. On leaving school at 16, the convent-educated author worked for the Bank of England as a clerk. Sheila continued her education by taking advantage of the B of E's enormous library during her lunch breaks and after work. She later worked as a secretary for the BBC. While there, she met and married Richard Holland, a political reporter. A voracious reader of romance novels, she began writing at her husband's suggestion. She wrote her first book in three days with three children underfoot! In between raising her five children (including a set of twins), Charlotte wrote several more novels. She used both her married and maiden names, Sheila Holland and Sheila Coates, before her first novel as Charlotte Lamb, Follow a Stranger, was published by Mills & Boon in 1973. She also used the pennames: Sheila Lancaster, Victoria Wolf and Laura Hardy. Sheila was a true revolutionary in the field of romance writing. One of the first writers to explore the boundaries of sexual desire, her novels often reflected the forefront of the "sexual revolution" of the 1970s. Her books touched on then-taboo subjects such as child abuse and rape, and she created sexually confident - even dominant - heroines. She was also one of the first to create a modern romantic heroine: independent, imperfect, and perfectly capable of initiating a sexual or romantic relationship. A prolific author, Sheila penned more than 160 novels, most of them for Mills & Boon. Known for her swiftness as well as for her skill in writing, Sheila typically wrote a minimum of two thousand words per day, working from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. While she once finished a full-length novel in four days, she herself pegged her average speed at two weeks to complete a full novel. Since 1977, Sheila had been living on the Isle of Man as a tax exile with her husband and four of their five children: Michael Holland, Sarah Holland, Jane Holland, Charlotte Holland and David Holland. Sheila passed away on October 8, 2000 in her baronial-style home 'Crogga' on the Island. She is greatly missed by her many fans, and by the romance writing community.